A Florida judge has ordered the state’s Healthcare Administration (AHCA) to produce documents proving that gender-affirming health care is not covered by Medicaid because the treatments are “experimental and investigative.”
Attorneys for AHCA — the agency that controls much of the state’s Medicaid program — will have until Feb. 14 to turn over documents they previously believed were protected by attorney-client privilege and work product privilege.
These included exchanges between agency officials and “anyone” involved in creating the June AHCA report, which determined that the existing medical literature provided “insufficient evidence” that puberty blockers, hormones and gender-affirming surgery are safe treatments for gender dysphoria Useful ways.
The report has been used to bar some 9,000 trans Floridians from using Medicaid to help pay for gender-affirming health care, and was cited at a November meeting of the state’s medical board, which voted to State rules for minors accessing gender-affirming treatment.
Gender-affirming healthcare for adolescents and adults is considered safe and medically necessary by most professional medical organizations.
In a six-page order issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said AHCA must produce, among other documents, the communications with experts it used to inform the agency about gender-affirming health care in June. reports and subsequent rules excluding treatments. Medicaid.
Lawyers for the agency said that while the required documents were created for rulemaking purposes, they were also intended for use in lawsuits they knew would follow the rules, making them legally protected documents.
Hinkle said he disagreed.
“Even if this leaves room, where appropriate, for the protection of documents created for a dual purpose – not just when the primary purpose is to aid future litigation – the expert at issue here is an important part of the statutory rulemaking process in part,” he wrote. The order is part of an ongoing lawsuit challenging Florida’s Medicaid exclusions.
Hinkle continued: “Either experts are hired to assist in the honest evaluation process — in which case their communications are not covered by work product protections — or the rulemaking process is sham and the real target is in the expected litigation Winning — A defendant can only embrace the possibility of winning a discovery battle if he admits that the rulemaking process is fatally flawed, or nearly fatally flawed.”
Court documents filed earlier this month suggest that the state’s rulemaking process is what it is, with an AHCA employee claiming the June report “failed to provide an honest and accurate assessment of medical evidence and practice guidelines related to gender-affirming health care.” “.
Under Hinkle’s order, AHCA’s attorneys have until Feb. 2 to file a revised log of protected documents. The plaintiffs in the case — two transgender minors and two transgender adults in their 20s — may file additional motions to enforce enforcement if they believe protected documents were “wrongfully withheld.”