Wisconsin lawsuit over transgender Medicaid coverage now a class action

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(Photo via Pixabay)

(Photo via Pixabay)

MADISON — A federal judge has expanded lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s rule denying Medicaid coverage for medically necessary transgender surgeries, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on Wednesday.

The newspaper said that U.S. District Judge William Conley certified the class action status of the case and extended the injunction to cover anyone in the class, pending the final outcome of the lawsuit. Last summer, a judge issued a preliminary injunction ordering the state to cover surgeries for the two original plaintiffs, Cody Flack of Green Bay and Sara Ann Makenzie of Baraboo.  Two more plantiffs, Marie Kelly, 38, of Milwaukee and Courtney Sherwin, 35, of Janesville, have joined the case as representatives of the class.

The state only opposed the expansion of the injunction. According to the Journal-Sentinel, the state claimed “inadequate evidence exists to conclude that the surgical procedures at issue can safely and efficaciously treat gender dysphoria.”

Conley stated that that defense had already been addressed and that surgical treatments can be necessary. Wisconsin stated that there was harm from the $250,000 to $960,000 it could spend on the surgeries. According to the newspaper, the state’s annual Medicaid budget is almost $4 billion.

The newspaper reported that the state’s defense against the suit itself is that gender-confirming surgeries are not medically necessary and compared it to tattoo removal and earlobe repair. The lawsuit claims that excluding the coverage violates the Affordable Care Act, the Medicaid Act and the due process guarantee of the 14th Amendment. It goes to trial in September.

Earlier this month, Illinois started preparations to include transition surgical care in the state’s Medicaid program.

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