Federal Judge Declares Florida’s Ban on Transgender Medicaid Coverage Unconstitutional
A federal judge has ruled that Florida’s ban on Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy,
A federal judge has ruled that Florida’s ban on Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy, is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s decision on Wednesday echoed his previous ruling in a challenge to state restrictions on gender-affirming care for both children and adults.
In his 54-page ruling, Hinkle criticized the state’s policy as “invidious discrimination” against transgender individuals, emphasizing that gender identity is real. The lawsuit, filed by two adults and the parents of two children, targeted the state Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees the Medicaid program. The agency had implemented a rule in 2022 prohibiting Medicaid reimbursements for “sex-reassignment” treatments, claiming they were experimental and not medically necessary.
However, Judge Hinkle found that the state’s decision was biased and lacked a rational basis. He stated that the ban violated federal Medicaid statutes, the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and the Affordable Care Act’s prohibition of sex discrimination. Hinkle also dismissed the state’s claims that many young patients regret using gender-affirming care, pointing out that regret is rare and backed by no evidence.
The ruling comes in the midst of heightened attention on treatments for transgender individuals in Florida, with Governor Ron DeSantis and his allies targeting such care. The decision has been hailed by lawyers representing the plaintiffs, who emphasized that it sends a strong message against playing politics with people’s lives.
The judge’s ruling firmly establishes that proper treatment for transgender individuals involves a multidisciplinary approach, starting with mental-health therapy and potentially including puberty blockers and hormones when appropriate. Hinkle rejected the state’s argument that diagnosing gender dysphoria is difficult and called for caution rather than a blanket refusal to cover widely accepted medical treatment.