As the U.S. military studies the implications of lifting a ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces, a new study says that the cost of providing transition-related health care to those service members would be about $5.6 million a year, or “little more than a rounding error in the military's $47.8 billion annual health care budget.”
After U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced in mid-July that that Department of Defense would look into lifting the ban, opponents expressed concern about the potential high costs of providing care to transgender individuals. In last week’s debate among Republican presidential candidates, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he wasn’t sure “how paying for transgender surgery for soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines makes our country safer.”
The new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine estimated that 12,800 transgender troops currently serve and are eligible for health care in the U.S., but only 188 transgender service members would require transition-related care annually. Aaron Belkin, the San Francisco State University researcher who conducted the survey, checked for accuracy using data from the Australian military, which already covers transition-related care, and compared costs with insurance plans offered to University of California employees and their dependents.
Belkin emphasized that costs could be lower than expected for several reasons. Among those, transition-related care would mitigate other serious and potentially costly conditions, such as suicidal thoughts, and might improve job performance.
Acknowledging that the costs might be higher than he estimates, Belkin still says they would be too low to matter and shouldn’t be a factor in deciding whether the ban is lifted or not.
In June, the American Medical Association said there is “no medically valid reason” to prohibit transgender individuals from serving in the military.
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From Gallup: “A record 25% of Americans say they or a family member put off treatment for a serious medical condition in the past year because of the cost, up from 19% a year ago and the highest in Gallup's trend. Another 8% said they or a family member put off treatment for a less serious condition, bringing the total percentage of households delaying care due to costs to 33%, tying the high from 2014.”
That’s how much the private debt collection program at the IRS collected in the 2019 fiscal year. In the black for the second year in a row, the program cleared nearly $148 million after commissions and administrative costs.
The controversial program, which empowers private firms to go after delinquent taxpayers, began in 2004 and ran for five years before the IRS ended it following a review. It was restarted in 2015 and ran at a loss for the next two years.
Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who played a central role in establishing the program, said Monday that the net proceeds are currently being used to hire 200 special compliance personnel at the IRS.
The federal budget deficit for October and November was $342 billion, up $36 billion or 12% from the same period last year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated on Monday. Revenues were up 3% while outlays rose by 6%, CBO said.
As expected, groups representing hospitals sued the Trump administration Wednesday to stop a new regulation would require them to make public the prices for services they negotiate with insurers. Claiming the rule “is unlawful, several times over,” the industry groups, which include the American Hospital Association, say the rule violates their First Amendment rights, among other issues.
"The burden of compliance with the rule is enormous, and way out of line with any projected benefits associated with the rule," the suit says. In response, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said that hospitals “should be ashamed that they aren’t willing to provide American patients the cost of a service before they purchase it.”
Between December 2017 and July 2019, enrollment in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) fell by 1.9 million, or 2.6%. The Kaiser Family Foundation provided an analysis of that drop Monday, saying that while some of it was likely caused by enrollees finding jobs that offer private insurance, a significant portion is related to enrollees losing health insurance of any kind. “Experiences in some states suggest that some eligible people may be losing coverage due to barriers maintaining coverage associated with renewal processes and periodic eligibility checks,” Kaiser said.