Ban on gender-affirming care teed up to pass in Senate

Yarborough, Clay
Physicians who violate the law and provide care to minors face third-degree felony charges.

A bill that codifies into law — and expands upon — rules pushed by the Gov. Ron DeSantis administration to ban gender-affirming and gender-conforming health care for minors inched closer to passage in the Senate.

The Senate considered nine amendments to SB 254, four of which were offered by Senate Democrats and rejected. But the chamber agreed to tag onto the bill four amendments offered by bill sponsor Sen. Clay Yarbrough, who repeatedly argued he wanted to protect Florida youth.

But SB 254 goes beyond banning gender-affirming and gender-conforming care to minors.

For instance, the bill makes physicians who violate the law and provide care to minors a third-degree felony.

Just before the Senate began discussing the measure, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo warned people in the Senate gallery who were watching the debate not to be animated. Passidomo earlier had cleared the entire gallery during the debate on the abortion bill after onlookers started yelling “shame on you,” “people will die” and “it’s my uterus, not yours.”

Following her comments, protestors gathered outside the chamber on the fourth floor.

SB 254, meanwhile, is not identical to its House counterpart (HB 1421). Among the differences in the proposals, HB 1421 bans commercial health plans from providing the coverage, whereas the Senate bill does not.

HB 1421 also precludes minors currently in treatment from continuing that treatment beyond Dec. 31, 2023. But the Senate bill empowers the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine to craft rules to address what should be done for minors who are in the midst of treatment.

Meanwhile, to ensure that the ban is being complied with, SB 254 would require every licensed hospital physician surgery office to sign attestation forms and return them to the state by July 1, 2023 confirming that they don’t provide or offer sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures to minors.

The bill would require AHCA to revoke the licenses of hospitals that don’t comply with the law. Physician surgery offices that don’t comply with the requirement could lose their registrations.

The bill would also ban any state funds from being used to provide gender-affirming or gender-conforming care, DeSantis had already amended Florida’s Medicaid rules to ban Medicaid from covering the care, which is being challenged in federal court. But the bill goes further, banning the state group health insurance program and state universities from also reimbursing for the costs of care, which impacts adults.

The bill prevents physician assistants and autonomous nurses from providing gender-affirming care regardless of the patient’s age. Sen. Tracie Davis tried to delete that provision of the bill saying that Spectrum, an Orlando provider treating people with gender dysphoria since 1998, relies on autonomous nurse practitioners to provide the care.

Additionally, the bill requires adults to sign consent forms stating that they are voluntarily seeking the care and that the consent was informed. In order to provide the consent, the bill requires that the physician be physically in the same room as the patient, which precludes the use of telehealth. Physicians who don’t get the consent forms can be charged with a misdemeanor.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.

One comment

  • Pill Mill Bill McBusted out Strip Mall Squatter

    April 3, 2023 at 6:00 pm

    Everything will be a felony in ten years. Even DUI will be a felony. Ron’s far right police state. And since the right wing needs a neverending stream of enemies to survive, the farther right the state goes, the more of a failure it will be in the long run.

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