AUSTIN (KXAN) — A bill introduced in the Texas Senate would prevent state-funded health insurance from covering gender-affirming care (GAC). It would allow for medical malpractice lawsuits to be brought against healthcare providers and insurers for providing or covering GAC.
Texas Republican Bob Hall filed Senate Bill 1029 on Feb. 17, one of 80 bills filed by the Senator. Other bills filed by Hall include liability protection for providers and pharmacists who prescribe ivermectin to patients with COVID-19 (SB 301) and a bill to prohibit discrimination against people who choose not to get COVID-19 vaccinations (SB 308).
The majority of Hall’s bills do not align with the priorities of Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, delaying any action on the bills until after mid-March.
Allison Chapman, a transgender activist and independent legislative researcher, said the bill “effectively bans” GAC coverage for children and adults in Texas.
“I think the impact is going to be that doctors aren’t going to feel comfortable providing gender-affirming care,” Chapman said. “The liability is so broad and it’s for life, we don’t know other medical procedure says that you’re going to be liable for everything forever. When someone gets a knee replacement, that has a really high regret rate. You don’t see legislators saying that a doctor or healthcare provider is going to have to pay to reverse that procedure.”
A systematic review and meta-analysis examined 27 studies on gender-affirming surgeries and found the regret rate for those surgeries is around 1%. The regret rate for a total knee arthroplasty sits around 18%, according to a study published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.
The bill does not prevent private insurance from covering GAC or create any statute to directly ban providers from offering GAC. It also does not change or expand Texas laws regarding medical malpractice lawsuits.
Read the full bill below:
The bill is part of what Chapman and other researchers call a “wave” of anti-transgender bills across the U.S. On Feb. 16, Chapman wrote on Twitter that she and other independent researchers are tracking 329 anti-LGBTQ bills.
“The goal is to throw as many ways of trying to ban things at the wall and see what sticks,” Chapman said. “I think that’s part of the reason for why we’re seeing so many bills in Texas and other states being just slightly worded slightly differently, doing all the same thing. I firmly believe that part of it is to overwhelm activist organizations and independent activists like myself as a nationwide attack on trans rights.”
Chapman hopes Texas advocates and allies mobilize a response to SB 1029, and the other anti-LGBTQ bills before the Texas Legislature.
“It’s difficult but at the end of the day, being trans is worth it,” Chapman said. “We’re not going away, we’ll never go away. You’re never going to be able to get rid of us. We will have each other whatever they try to do…we’ll always have our community. There’ll be a brighter day, we will succeed — It might not be this year, it might not be this decade, but we will succeed.”
KXAN reached out to Hall for a comment but did not receive a response.