NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The issue of transgender care continues to be a divisive topic.
“Tell me what we’re solving for with this,” Rep. Bob Freeman (D-Nashville) asked during a House Insurance Committee hearing. “What is the problem we’re trying to fix?”
“We’re not particularly trying to fix a problem,” Rep. Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro) responded. “This is just a service that is currently available to TennCare that will no longer be available, as other services in TennCare are not provided.”
A new bill makes it so “a Managed Care Organization (MCO) that contracts with the bureau of TennCare to provide medical assistance…shall not provide reimbursement or coverage for a medical procedure” if that procedure is for transgender care.
In other words, TennCare cannot contract with any organization that provides reimbursement for transgender care. That includes organizations out of state.
Tuesday, in the Insurance Committee, that bill passed along party lines. Dozens of people from several equality groups joined the meeting in the audience. They say the bill is just the latest example of pushing their community away.
“It’s not okay to continue to be beat down and punished in the name of religion, in the name of God,” Candace Winters Johnson said. “Usually, that’s where they’re coming from whether they say it or not because we live in the Bible belt. We live in the buckle of the Bible belt.”
Johnson has a transgender son and is part of the Tennessee Equality Project. News 2 asked her if she had any sort of message for lawmakers prior to today’s hearing. “I don’t think I can say it on TV,” she said.
Republicans argue this bill isn’t meant to harm anyone, it’s just lining up with the values of the constituency.
“This type of service and the way it is starting to be implemented is not with the values of most Tennesseans,” Rudd said.
The bill now heads to the House Finance Committee, which is generally the last step before it hits the House floor.
Hundreds of bills will be up for debate during the 113th General Assembly. Tennessee lawmakers shared their thoughts on some of the major issues up for discussion at this year’s legislative session.
What lawmakers had to say about: Abortion Ban Clarification | Marijuana Reform | Transgender Therapy and LGBTQ+ Rights | Dept. of Children’s Services | Education | Crime/Public Safety | More
You can also find daily coverage from the session here.