Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Unnecessary" Medical Treatment Ban Passes Senate Committee

The Senate Committee passed today SB 1079, initiated by Democrat Senator Michael Rubio. The proposal, whose full text is here, would amend the Penal Code to prevent CDCR from providing medical services unless they are "based on medical necessity and supported by outcome data as effective medical care." The proposition gives the treating physician the discretion whether to provide a certain medical treatment.

This, in itself, is interesting. In the lacuna created by the end of the Receivership health services, questions about the quality and quantity of medical services are bound to arise. And, one of the trends stemming from the financial crisis is saving on health care. But wait, there's more; SB 1079 provides a list of treatments that it deems "medically unnecessary." Some highlights follow:

  • The proposal proclaims that mononucleosis and mild sprains "improve on their own without treatment" and therefore will not be treated.
  • The proposal proclaims that some conditions are so severe that they don't respond well to treatment, and will therefore not be treated, and includes in the list multiple organ transplants and grossly metastatic cancer.
  • Then, we are regaled with a list of conditions that are "cosmetic;" some of these include conventional plastic surgery, but some of them include surgery for the purpose of sex reassignment and removal of tattoos (which could save someone's life in a prison environment for obvious reasons.)
  • And finally, we're explicitly told that gender reassignment surgery is not "medically necessary."
  • Interestingly, the proposal goes as far as to explicitly rule out acupuncture and other methods, expressing not only a preference for Western medicine, but also a rejection of techniques that may be preventative and might actually save the state money in terms of disease prevention.
I'm dismayed, particularly about the classification of gender reassignment as not "medically necessary." Try and tell a trans woman who is serving her sentence at a men's prison that reassignment is not essential not only to her health, but to her immediate safety and well being. People do not pursue these operations on a whim; they do so because their gender expression does not match who they really are, and in a prison environment, it can save them from rape and torture. This is proposal, of which Michael Rubio brags on his website, is deplorable and should be protested and fought.

Props to Caitlin Henry for alerting me to this.


Ashley said...

Wow...this is unbelievable. Sex reassignment is not "cosmetic" and should not be mistaken as such. This is really bad.

Unknown said...

If its going to save a life, then its a necessity. Not sure gender reassignment surgery is a life or death issue. Tattoos, well that's was a choice they made and choices have consequences. Especially in prison.