Federal judge overturns Wisc. Medicaid ban on paying for transition care

(Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly's Gender Spectrum Collection)
(Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly’s Gender Spectrum Collection)

MADISON, Wisc. — A judge ruled on Friday that Wisconsin’s Medicaid program can’t deny treatment for gender-confirmation surgeries and other transition related care.

On Monday, Courthouse News Service reported that against the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, or DHS, was filed by Cody Flack of Green Bay and Sara Ann Makenzie of Baraboo back in April 2018. The plaintiffs challenged a 1997 amendment to state Medicaid regulations that excluded coverage for “drugs, including hormone therapy, associated with transsexual surgery,” deeming them “medically unnecessary.”

From Courthouse News Service:

Flack, a transgender man, and Makenzie, a transgender woman, both suffer from severe gender dysphoria. They argued that the exclusion violates the Affordable Care Act, the Medicaid Act and the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

U.S. District Court Judge William Conley agreed with Flack and Makenzie in July 2018 and issued a preliminary injunction ordering the state to cover their sex-reassignment surgeries.

In the meantime, during which the state health department appealed Conley’s injunction, two more transgender women, Marie Kelly of Milwaukee and Courtney Sherwin of Janesville, joined the suit, and Conley certified it as a class action in April.

Conley followed up his previous preliminary injunction with a permanent one on Friday, writing in a 38-page ruling that “the court found defendants’ argument less than persuasive before and that has not changed.”

The judge explained that the dated rationale asserting that sex reassignment and hormonal procedures for transgender individuals suffering from gender dysphoria are medically unnecessary “is no longer reasonable.”

Conley noted in his ruling that numerous medical profession organizations had “already endorsed gender-confirming surgeries as medically accepted, safe, and effective treatments for gender dysphoria.”