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Maloney Introduces Legislation to Ban Use of Taxpayer Dollars for Conversion “Therapy”

BY: Kinzi Sparks
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Bill Would Prohibit Use of Medicaid Funding, Crack Down on Deceptive Billing Practices for Conversion “Therapy”

WASHINGTON – Today, in advance of the Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31st, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), a co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, introduced the Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act. The bill would prevent Medicaid funds from being used to pay for conversion “therapy” and crack down on misleading billing tactics, which have allowed taxpayer dollars to fund the discredited practice. The bill is cosponsored by 63 members of Congress.

“Conversion practices are discredited, harmful, and not therapy. Fundamentally, conversion tactics are based on the idea that a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation are diseases to be cured — they have no legitimate medical application and should not be used anywhere,” said Rep. Maloney. “Until we can just ban conversion therapy all together, we must ensure taxpayer dollars aren’t funding a fraudulent practice that has been roundly discredited by the medical community. That’s exactly what my bill would do.”

“The Trevor Project hears from youth harmed by the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy every week. By limiting the means by which licensed mental health professionals can be reimbursed for their horrific practice, the Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act will make clear that conversion therapy is far outside the mainstream,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “More than 21,000 advocates have joined The Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign dedicated to protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy. We look forward to mobilizing them to ensure this critical legislation receives the attention and support it deserves.”

“Being LGBTQ is not a mental illness and should never be treated that way,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director for Human Rights Campaign. “So-called ‘conversion therapy’ has been universally rejected by every major medical and mental health organization, and it poses serious health risks including depression and suicide. Taxpayer dollars should never be used to fund this dangerous and discredited practice. As lawmakers across the country step up to protect against conversion therapy, we are grateful for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s leadership on this issue at the federal level. We call on Congress to advance this legislation and ensure funds meant to improve the lives and welfare of all Americans never go toward harmful, medically unnecessary practices.”

“The NEA wholeheartedly supports the ‘Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act’ and applauds U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney for introducing this legislation,” said Marc Egan, Director, NEA Government Relations. “Many organizations, including the American College of Physicians, have discredited any programs that attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. These dangerous practices damage physical, mental, and emotional well-being. As educators, NEA members strive to connect with and support all students, which means recognizing their right to be exactly who they are and opposing all practices that deny this right.”

“Conversion therapy is hateful, dangerous, ineffective, has been resoundingly discredited by medical and psychological associations, and has no place in a just and equitable society,” said Justin Rush, Public Policy Director for True Colors United. “We’re thankful to Congressman Maloney for undertaking this important legislation to ensure that payments through Medicaid for conversion therapy are prohibited moving forward,” concluded Rush.

“Conversion therapy is dangerous and discredited,” said Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director of Equality Federation. “Through our 43 member organizations we’ve heard from many survivors about the harm and trauma this practice has caused them. Major medical and psychological associations agree, and we know from our personal experiences, that LGBTQ youth are healthier and happier when they are loved and encouraged to be themselves.”

“Family Equality Council is thrilled that Congressman Maloney is leading the effort to ban conversion therapy funded by Medicaid, which is the healthcare provider for foster children,” said Schylar Baber, Federal Policy Consultant at Family Equality Council. “Passage of this bill will mean that foster children, who often don’t have strong support from adults in their lives, will be able to trust that their medical providers will not subject them to this abusive procedure. As a foster care alumni who was subjected to conversion therapy while in care, I can’t overstate the importance of medical providers ensuring that all medical treatment is in the best interest and supports the well-being of the child.”

“Conversion therapy is a charlatan practice that has been widely debunked and discredited by healthcare professionals and banned by law in 15 states, Washington DC, and scores of municipalities and counties,” said Gal Mayer, MD, MS, President, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality. “As a healthcare provider, I know that these dangerous and unsuccessful attempts to alter a person’s sexuality or gender identity do not work and can result in mental health problems, substance use, and suicide. GLMA has been a staunch opponent of this indefensible, ineffective and fraudulent ‘therapy’ for decades, and fully supports the Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act introduced by Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, which would put an end to Medicaid payments for conversion therapy and represent the next step forward in completely eradicating this disgraceful practice in the US.”

“So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is a harmful, ineffective solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist,” said Rick Zbur, Equality California Executive Director. “We should be using Medicaid dollars to expand access to quality, affordable care — not spending taxpayer money on dangerous junk science.”

Conversion “therapy” attempts to “cure” the sexual orientation or gender identity of members of the LGBTQ+ community. Despite being discredited by the American Psychiatric Association, American College of Physicians, American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, and other medical and civil rights organizations, thousands of innocent LGBTQ people are subjected to so-called “conversion” or “reparative therapy” each year. Research has found that the practice can lead to depression, decreases in self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ young people have been forced to undergo the practice.

States currently decide which services Medicaid can cover and most have failed to ban the use of funding for conversion “therapy.” Because CMS codes do not mention the model of therapy being applied, even illegitimate practices can be performed and billed. The Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act would take several steps to combat the practice. First, it would legally define “conversion therapy” while ensuring that organizations which provide legitimate support to LGBTQ people are not at risk of losing funding. The bill would also ban the use of Medicaid funding for conversion “therapy” and ensure the practice is not paid for through the use of deceptive billing practices using CMS codes for mental and behavioral health.

The bill has been endorsed by The Trevor Project, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), National Education Association, PFLAG National, Gay & Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Council for Global Equality (CGE), National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), Third Way, True Colors Fund, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Family Equality Council, AIDS United, Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), National Black Justice Coalition, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, Equality California.

The bill is cosponsored by Representatives: Ted Lieu, Tulsi Gabbard, Mark Takano, Suzanne Bonamici, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alan Lowenthal, Charlie Crist, Adriano Espaillat, Eliot Engel, Andre Carson, Raul Grijalva, Steve Cohen, Derek Kilmer, Michael Doyle, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Jimmy Gomez, Betty McCollum, Chris Pappas, Earl Blumenauer, Eric Swalwell, Paul Tonko, Gregory Meeks, Juan Vargas, Brian Higgins, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Jackie Speier, Mark Pocan, Pramila Jayapal, Alcee Hastings, Seth Moulton, Dina Titus, Norma Torres, James Himes, Bobby Rush, Julia Brownley, Dan Kildee, Adam Smith, James McGovern, John Garamendi, Joseph Kennedy, Nydia Velazquez, Doris Matsui, Mike Quigley, Tim Ryan, David Cicilline, Grace Napolitano, Bill Foster, Angie Craig, Shiela Jackson Lee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Scott Peters, Ilhan Omar, Jennifer Wexton, Peter DeFazio, Jerrold Nadler, Rose L. DeLauro, Susan Wild, Denny Heck, Debbie Watson Coleman, Barbara Lee, Jimmy Panetta, Robin L. Kelly, Anthony Brown.


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