By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
Idaho’s Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Raymond Patricco agreed to move forward a lawsuit involving two transgender people who claim Idaho’s Medicaid program refused to pay for their gender affirming medical care.
The plaintiffs in the case, identified as MH and TB, are transgender women who both submitted prior authorization requests to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare seeking genital reconstruction surgeries to treat their gender dysphoria, as recommended by their physicians. The department denied covering both requests under Medicaid, saying neither plaintiff’s procedures were medically necessary.
The plaintiffs sued the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare over those denials, saying they violate the Equal Protection Clause, the Due Process Clause, and multiple requirements of the Medicaid Act.
Gov. Brad Little has previously said he does not support using Idaho Medicaid to pay for gender dysphoria treatments like surgeries, puberty blockers, or hormones.
In the order published Tuesday, Patricco allowed the lawsuit to move forward, citing the plaintiffs’ Equal Protection Claim. The court did grant the state’s request to block suing Dr. Magni Hamso, who denied MH’s request, in her individual capacity. Plaintiffs may still sue Hamso in her official capacity as medical director of the Idaho Division of Medicaid.
“Plaintiffs recognize that, on its face, Defendants’ policy appears gender-neutral and directed at a medical condition and treatment therefor: coverage is excluded for genital reconstruction surgery to treat gender dysphoria. Yet, exclusively transgender persons – and not cisgender persons – suffer from gender dysphoria,” Patricco wrote.
A cisgender person is a person who identifies with the gender assigned at birth.
The merits of the claim are not yet decided, and the court requested plans for litigation moving forward.