Wisconsin Medicaid to begin funding sex-reassignment surgery after settlement
MADISON, Wisconsin, December 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Attorneys for several gender-confused Medicaid patients announced a settlement with the state of Wisconsin on Tuesday, clearing the way for gender-reassignment treatments to begin being offered at taxpayers’ expense.
Under the settlement, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services must establish a new “inclusive” policy on Medicaid coverage for transgender treatments and notify recipients that had previously been denied of their newfound eligibility, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported. Plaintiffs Cody Flack, Sara Ann Makenzie, Courtney Sherwin, and Marie Kelly will also split $840,000 in damages, and their law firms will receive $1.35 million in legal fees from the state.
The agreement settles a case brought by four gender-confused Medicaid patients against a 1997 state administrative provision that excluded “transsexual surgery” from Medicaid, which U.S. District Judge William Conley found in August constituted “sex discrimination” under the federal Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
“We applaud the Wisconsin Department of Health Services for accepting the Court’s rulings and the medical consensus that gender-confirming health care saves lives,” said lead attorney Joseph Wardenski. “We are delighted that the Court’s decision invalidating Wisconsin’s legally and medically indefensible coverage exclusion is now permanent.”
Wisconsin’s Medicaid system has an estimated $9.7 billion budget and 1.2 million enrollees, approximately 5,000 of whom are believed to have some form of gender confusion. The state argued that covering surgery for all of them could cost taxpayers as much as $2.1 million, which Conley rejected on the grounds that the estimates were well below one percent of the $3.9 billion share of Wisconsin Medicaid’s $9.7 billion annual budget.
The state also argued that transgender surgery has no proven medical benefit. A variety of scientific literature indicates that reinforcing a patient’s gender confusion rather than helping him or her overcome it fails to prevent significant emotional harm up to and including attempted suicide, with or without surgery. There is also a growing movement of former transgenders who have “de-transitioned” back to their real sex after experiencing “sex change regret.”
The case follows the Wisconsin Group Insurance Board 5-4 vote in August 2018 to cover hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery deemed “medically necessary” for public-sector employees.