24 days after Congress let CHIP lapse, Pennsylvania Republican is targeting transgender kids

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Republicans in Congress let funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program expire, and now, 24 days later, a state lawmaker in Pennsylvania is targeting transgender kids as a condition of renewing the program in that state. State Sen. Donald White is attaching an amendment to CHIP reauthorization that would ban “reimbursement for gender or sex reassignment surgery or gender or sex transition services, including, but not limited to, physician’s services, inpatient and outpatient hospital services, prescribed drugs or counseling services related to such surgery or services.”

White seemed to indicate that his amendment was meant to address surgeries. “It is completely inappropriate to use state funds to pay for sex change operations for children,” he said in a statement. “This program provides vital health care services for Pennsylvania’s children. It is irresponsible to allow its limited resources to be used for sex change procedures.”

because the language refers to surgery “or gender or sex transition services,” it’s unclear if it could also refer to doctors who recommend social transition for younger children, or the prescription of puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones. Essentially, it could cut off health care coverage entirely for transgender kids if no doctor they see is allowed to affirm their gender identity.

Because of the expiration of the federal CHIP funds, nearly 9 million kids are in danger of losing their health care, and Republicans are in no hurry to change that. In Pennsylvania, 174,000 kids in the program are being held hostage to an attack on the small percentage of them who are transgender.

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