Should Medicaid payments for circumcision be cut off in Colorado?
That's the argument of The Whole Network, a national organization that's encouraging its members to contact Colorado legislators who might be thinking about reinstating such funding. A network spokeswoman says the fight has taken place behind the scenes at the State Capitol the past two years, and advocates are ready for another battle against what they see as harmful surgery on innocent victims.
"We believe that circumcision, and especially infant circumcision, is cosmetic surgery," stresses Sarah Kuester, whose also on the Whole Network's board of directors. "It's unnecessary, it's damaging, it's non-consensual, and there's almost never a medical need for it."
Why the focus on Colorado?
"Circumcision in Colorado was covered by Medicaid until 2011," she says. "Then it was budgeted out in 2012 -- and it was reintroduced and defeated in 2013 by a tie vote in the budget committee."
As for the current session, sources on the ground in Colorado -- the most prominent local organization opposing Medicaid funding for circumcision in the state is Colorado NoCirc -- reveal that "it's been brought up to the budget committee again," Kuester continues. "From what we understand, it hasn't gotten as far as it being actually introduced, but it's in the process. So this is a preemptive strike."
The pro-circumcision crowd "tries to pass it off as preventative surgery," Kuester allows -- the idea being that the removal of an infant boy's foreskin enhances hygiene, among other things.
But in her view, "the benefits absolutely do not outweigh the risks. If somebody wanted to give their baby a boob job, they'd be laughed off the face of the earth. But this kind of cosmetic surgery is practiced every day -- and we don't think Medicaid should pay for it."
Holding ground in Colorado is important, Kuester believes, because "Colorado is one of eighteen states that currently do not fund Medicaid circumcisions. But if it's reintroduced in Colorado, it could possibly be used as a tool in other states -- like, 'Colorado has reinstated it, so maybe we should, too.'"
Kuester feels the efforts to prevent such a development are off to a good start. Via e-mail, she points out that the action alert that went out to The Whole Network's 15,500 Facebook fans has already registered 17,000 views to date, and at least one Colorado legislator, Senator Vicki Marble, has responded with "I agree!!," which Kuester sees as encouraging.
"Basically, this is a human rights issue," she says. "To reintroduce state-sponsored genital cutting is a step in the wrong direction."
Continue to see The Whole Network action alert, plus a sample e-mail and contact information for members of the Colorado legislature.
The Whole Network action alert, sample e-mail and Colorado legislator contact list:
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❋❋❋❋ INTACTIVIST CALL TO ACTION ❋❋❋❋
We need your help to prevent Colorado Medicaid from paying for circumcision! We now have confirmation that one or more legislators in Colorado are currently trying to add circumcision to Colorado Medicaid via the budget, which is being written now. It is extremely important that we prevent this from happening. If Colorado starts paying for circumcision, other states may follow. We deeply appreciate your support!
We need you to contact the Colorado legislators immediately. Below you will find email addresses of the legislators, as well as a sample email you can use. Feel free to write your own message if you prefer, and please be respectful.
The most important people to contact are the 6 members of the Joint Budget Committee (JBC), and they are listed first below(*). After that, please contact the Democrats, and finally the Republicans.
Background: as you may know, Colorado Medicaid stopped paying for newborn circumcision in July 2011. Both in 2012 and 2013, certain legislators attempted to reinstate payment for circumcision, and they are trying again this year. In 2012, a state senator pushed a bill to force payment. This bill passed the CO Senate, but was narrowly defeated in the House. In 2013, the situation was even closer, with a similar measure failing by a tied vote of 3-3. We were very fortunate that it didn't pass!
In 2012 when we called on you for help, you answered in a big way, and it made a real difference! We need your help again - please take just a few minutes to send some emails (sample below). We cannot stress enough the importance of this battle in Colorado to the rest of the country.
It doesn't matter if you don't currently reside in Colorado - we still need your help!
We will be counting on your voices! Thank you! Craig Garrett www.ColoradoNoCirc.org Craig@ColoradoNoCirc.org
Medicaid should not pay for circumcision
Every Medicaid dollar should go directly to real medical treatments to address the needs of the poor. Medicaid should not pay for cosmetic surgeries like circumcision.
The medical systems of Canada, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand do not pay for newborn circumcision. Seventeen other U.S. states also don't pay for it. They know that routine circumcision is unjustified medically and is a waste of healthcare resources.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is wrong.
The AAP omitted the fact that the foreskin is an important part of male anatomy with specific sexual, sensory, and protective functions.
The AAP failed to address the ethical problems with amputating healthy tissue from a child without that child's consent.
Other modern nations are not endorsing circumcision as an HIV prevention method. Infants are not sexually active, and HIV is more easily and more effectively prevented in other, less invasive ways such as education.
The AAP inadequately addressed the risks of circumcision, despite the fact that complications can and do happen, causing trauma to the child and adding to public healthcare costs.
The AAP is out of step with the medical organizations in other countries. Virtually all other medically advanced nations have reviewed the same data and they have concluded that circumcision is not worthwhile and may, in fact, be harmful.
Please oppose any attempt to force Colorado Medicaid to waste precious healthcare funds on this questionable and antiquated practice.
Sincerely, [your name]
Colorado Legislators (Senators and Representatives) (*budget committee first 6, Democrats, then Republicans)
Title Name (Last, First) Party E-mail *Rep Duran, Crisanta (D) firstname.lastname@example.org *Rep May, Jenise (D) email@example.com *Rep Gerou, Cheri (R) firstname.lastname@example.org *Sen Steadman, Pat (D) email@example.com *Sen Hodge, Mary (D) firstname.lastname@example.org *Sen Lambert, Kent (R) email@example.com Sen Aguilar, Irene (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Carroll, Morgan (D) email@example.com Sen Guzman, Lucia (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Heath, Rollie (D) email@example.com Sen Jahn, Cheri (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Johnston, Michael (D) email@example.com Sen Jones, Matt (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Kefalas, John (D) email@example.com Sen Kerr, Andy (D) SenatorAndyKerr@gmail.com Sen Newell, Linda (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Nicholson, Jeanne (D) email@example.com Sen Schwartz, Gail (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Tochtrop, Lois (D) email@example.com Sen Todd, Nancy (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Ulibarri, Jessie (D) email@example.com Sen Zenzinger, Rachel (D) SenatorRachelZ@gmail.com Rep Becker, KC (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Buckner, John (D) email@example.com Rep Court, Lois (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Exum, Tony (D) email@example.com Rep Ferrandino, Mark (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Fields, Rhonda (D) email@example.com Rep Fischer, Randy (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Foote, Mike (D) email@example.com Rep Garcia, Leroy M (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Ginal, Joann (D) email@example.com Rep Hamner, Millie (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Hullinghorst, Dickey Lee (D) email@example.com Rep Kagan, Daniel (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Kraft-Tharp, Tracy (D) email@example.com Rep Labuda, Jeanne (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Lebsock, Steve (D) email@example.com Rep Lee, Pete (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep McCann, Beth (D) email@example.com Rep McLachlan, Mike (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Melton, Jovan (D) email@example.com Rep Mitsch Bush, Diane (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Moreno, Dominick (D) email@example.com Rep Pabon, Dan (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Peniston, Cherylin (D) email@example.com Rep Pettersen, Brittany (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Primavera, Dianne (D) email@example.com Rep Rosenthal, Paul (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Ryden, Su (D) email@example.com Rep Salazar, Joseph A (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Schafer, Sue (D) email@example.com Rep Singer, Jonathan (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Tyler, Max (D) email@example.com Rep Vigil, Edward (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Williams, Angela (D) email@example.com Rep Young, Dave (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Buck, Perry (R) email@example.com Rep Conti, Kathleen (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Coram, Don (R) email@example.com Rep DelGrosso, Brian (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Dore, Timothy (R) email@example.com Rep Everett, Justin (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Gardner, Bob (R) email@example.com Rep Holbert, Chris (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Humphrey, Stephen (R) email@example.com Rep Joshi, Janak (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Landgraf, Lois (R) email@example.com Rep Lawrence, Polly (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep McNulty, Frank (R) email@example.com Rep Murray, Carole (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Navarro, Clarice (R) email@example.com Rep Nordberg, Dan (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Priola, Kevin (R) email@example.com Rep Rankin, Bob (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Saine, Lori (R) email@example.com Rep Scott, Ray (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Sonnenberg, Jerry (R) email@example.com Rep Stephens, Amy (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Swalm, Spencer (R) email@example.com Rep Szabo, Libby (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Waller, Mark (R) email@example.com Rep Wilson, Jim (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Wright, Jared (R) email@example.com Sen Balmer, David (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Baumgardner, Randy (R) email@example.com Sen Brophy, Greg (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Cadman, Bill (R) email@example.com Sen Crowder, Larry (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Grantham, Kevin (R) email@example.com Sen Harvey, Ted (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Herpin, Bernie (R) email@example.com Sen Hill, Owen (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen King, Steve (R) email@example.com Sen Lundberg, Kevin (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Marble, Vicki (R) email@example.com Sen Renfroe, Scott (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Rivera, George (R) email@example.com Sen Roberts, Ellen (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Scheffel, Mark (R) email@example.com
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