LGBTQ+ & Healthcare Legal Groups Advocate: “All Floridians, Including Transgender Floridians, Deserve Equal Access to Health care”
(TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA —May 22) Today, the trial concluded in a lawsuit challenging Florida’s prohibition on Medicaid coverage for treatment of gender dysphoria for transgender Floridians, as set forth in recently enacted SB 254 and the rule promulgated by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) last August. A ruling is expected in the near future from the Northern District of Florida, after a two-week federal trial in Dekker, et al. v. Weida, et al.
The legal advocates – Lambda Legal, Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project, and National Health Law Program, together with international law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP — issued the following joint statement:
“Over the past two weeks, we presented compelling evidence demonstrating that gender-affirming medical care for transgender adolescents and adults is safe, effective, and not experimental. The Court heard from a number of medical and scientific experts, from psychiatrists and endocrinologists to clinical researchers and neuroscientists, who testified about the safety, efficacy and necessity of gender-affirming medical treatment. More importantly, the Court heard from transgender Floridians and the parents of transgender adolescents in Florida. Finally, we exposed the fact that Florida’s discriminatory actions and AHCA’s policy are motivated by political stances rather than science or medicine.
Medicaid coverage is indispensable to the access to necessary medical care of thousands of transgender Floridians, including those who are low-income or have disabilities. Unfortunately, over the past year, Florida officials have repeatedly adopted laws and policies that endanger the health and well-being of transgender Floridians and single out LGBTQ+ people and their parents, health care providers, and allies for discrimination and state-sanctioned persecution.
Through this trial, we have demonstrated how two of Florida’s recently adopted laws and policies, specifically, those targeting transgender Medicaid beneficiaries in Florida like AHCA’s rule and SB 254, are unlawful and unconstitutional. We are thankful that the Court has given us the opportunity to make our case and look forward to its decision.”
The lawsuit, Dekker, et al., v. Weida, et al., was filed in 2022 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida against the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and AHCA’s Secretary Jason Weida, on behalf of four plaintiffs: August Dekker (he/him) and Brit Rothstein (he/him), as well as two minors identified under pseudonyms Susan Doe (represented by her parents Jane and John Doe) and K.F. (represented by his mother, Jade Ladue).
On August 21, 2022, AHCA, which oversees Florida’s Medicaid Program, adopted a discriminatory rule that denies Medicaid coverage for, and therefore access to, necessary and evidence-based medical care for thousands of transgender people in Florida, notwithstanding that this is medical care that has long been covered by Florida Medicaid, and has been proven over decades to be safe and effective. On May 17, 2023, during the pendency of the trial in this case, Governor DeSantis signed SB 254 into law, which, among other things, prohibits the expenditure of state funds for the provision or coverage of gender-affirming care. The next day the case was amended to include a challenge to SB 254’s Section 3 using the same evidence developed at trial.
Read more about Dekker, et al. V. Weida, et al., here: Dekker, et al., v. Weida, et al. – Lambda Legal
The National Health Law Program, founded in 1969, protects and advances health rights of low-income and underserved individuals and families. We advocate, educate and litigate at the federal and state levels to advance health and civil rights in the U.S. www.healthlaw.org
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and policy work. www.lambdalegal.org
Southern Legal Counsel (SLC) is a Florida statewide not-for-profit public interest law firm that is committed to the ideal of equal justice for all and the attainment of basic human and civil rights. SLC’s Transgender Rights Initiative protects the rights of Florida’s LGBTQ+ community through federal impact litigation, policy advocacy, and individual representation. www.southernlegal.org
Florida Health Justice Project is a statewide Florida not-for-profit that recognizes that access to quality and affordable health care is a human right and engages in comprehensive advocacy to expand healthcare access and promote health equity for vulnerable Floridians. www.floridahealthjustice.org
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is an international law firm with a particular focus on the technology & life sciences, energy, financial, and real estate & construction sectors. Recognized as one of the most innovative law firms by Financial Times and one of the top firms for client service by BTI Consulting, Pillsbury and its lawyers are highly regarded for their forward-thinking approach, their enthusiasm for collaborating across disciplines and their authoritative commercial awareness. www.pillsburylaw.com
Andy DiAntonio (National Health Law Program); Cell: (703) 615-0786; Email: [email protected]