Washington D.C., Aug 24, 2016 / 19:03 pm
Following the federal government stating that doctors cannot decline performing sex reassignment surgeries, a group of states, doctors, and hospitals are suing in the name of medical ethics.
“The effect is that there are doctors all across the country that are going to be asked to perform gender transition procedures, even when they believe it is going to be physically and emotionally harmful to the patient and against their best medical judgment,” Luke Goodrich, deputy general counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told CNA.
“And this rule says if you follow your medical judgment, you can face massive liability.”
Current health care law bans discrimination against patients on basis of sex. New regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services interpret such discrimination to include cases where requests for procedures involving gender reassignment are denied.
The HHS would evaluate whether a denial of services meant discrimination on a “case-by-case basis,” Goodrich explained, basically if they thought a doctor didn’t “have a good reason” for saying no.
The rule could affect doctors and hospitals everywhere: as many as 900,000 doctors, the Becket Fund claimed. The religious freedom law group is representing various religious health providers like the Franciscan Alliance hospital network and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations. Five states – Texas, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Wisconsin – have joined the lawsuit.
The government does not mandate coverage for sex-reassignment surgery under Medicare and Medicaid, because the evidence is not conclusive that it is safe, the group said, pointing to a June memo by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.
That memo stated that “there is not enough evidence to determine whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries with gender dysphoria.”