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Health News Florida

Without Medicaid, some patients will skip expensive transgender treatments, UF doctor says

Pills
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Dr. Michael Haller, UF's chief of pediatric endocrinology, says his team provides gender-affirming treatment to about 200 patients, and two-thirds are covered by Medicaid.

A pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Florida is speaking out against the state's plans to block people from using Medicaid to pay for gender-affirming care.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration issued a report this past week that could set the stage for Medicaid to deny coverage for treatments such as puberty-blocking medication and hormone therapy for transgender people.

Dr. Michael Haller, UF's chief of pediatric endocrinology, says his team provides gender-affirming treatment to youths and that about two-thirds of the 200 patients are covered by Medicaid. He says paying out of pocket is simply not an option for a lot of these families. 

“Certainly pubertal blockers could run thousands of dollars per month in out-of-pocket expenses. Cost-prohibitive for almost every patient. Even folks who have a solid income, let alone folks who qualify for Medicaid. So, it would effectively eliminate their real-world access to those medications,” Haller says.

Without that assistance, he says some will have to simply stop their treatment. 

“Could you imagine starting a kid on a chemotherapeutic for a cancer that’s relatively new, but we have this therapy that we think works really well," Haller says. "And we get 10 percent of the way of treating your kid with it. And now we say sorry we’re stopping it. Not because we don’t think it works, but because some policy says we can’t.”

In a statement, the Agency for Health Care Administration claims that gender-affirming treatment is, “experimental and investigational with the potential for harmful long term effects.”


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