Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act

The Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act would prohibit Medicaid funds from being used to pay for conversion therapy, preventing taxpayer dollars from being used for these harmful and discredited practices

116th Congress: H.R. 1981

The Problem

Despite the fact that so-called “conversion therapy” has been discredited and declared harmful by every major medical and mental health association in the country, some mental health providers continue to engage in efforts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of their LGBTQ clients.

“Conversion therapy,” sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” is a range of practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices are based on the false premise that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) is a mental illness that needs to be cured, a theory that has been rejected by every major medical and mental health organization. There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. On the contrary, research has shown that conversion therapy poses dangerous health risks for LGBTQ young people. The use of these harmful practices can lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. 

A recent Williams Institute report estimates that approximately 20,000 LGBTQ minors in states without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed health care professional before the age of 18. The report found that approximately 698,000 LGBTQ adults in the U.S were subjected to the practice at some point in their lives—350,000 of whom were adolescents at the time.

While 20 states plus D.C. and Puerto Rico have enacted laws or regulations to restrict this practice, there are currently no federal laws or regulations that expressly prohibit the use of federal funds to support this practice.

What is the Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act?

The Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act would prohibit Medicaid funds from being used to pay for conversion therapy, preventing taxpayer dollars from being used for these harmful and discredited practices. 

Medical providers use certain billing codes to bill Medicaid for services provided. These codes do not define the specific types of therapy being used, leaving providers able to bill for harmful services like conversion therapy under broader mental health billing codes. This legislation would create a legal definition of conversion therapy and make clear that providers may not use deceptive billing practices to obtain reimbursement from Medicaid for conversion therapy. 

The Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-CA) on March 28, 2019.

 

For more information, please contact legislation@hrc.org. Read about other federal legislation pertinent to the LGBTQ community here.

Last Updated: May 27, 2020