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:
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
❋❋❋❋ 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) email@example.com *Rep May, Jenise (D) firstname.lastname@example.org *Rep Gerou, Cheri (R) email@example.com *Sen Steadman, Pat (D) firstname.lastname@example.org *Sen Hodge, Mary (D) email@example.com *Sen Lambert, Kent (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Aguilar, Irene (D) email@example.com Sen Carroll, Morgan (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Guzman, Lucia (D) email@example.com Sen Heath, Rollie (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Jahn, Cheri (D) email@example.com Sen Johnston, Michael (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Jones, Matt (D) email@example.com Sen Kefalas, John (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Kerr, Andy (D) SenatorAndyKerr@gmail.com Sen Newell, Linda (D) email@example.com Sen Nicholson, Jeanne (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Schwartz, Gail (D) email@example.com Sen Tochtrop, Lois (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Todd, Nancy (D) email@example.com Sen Ulibarri, Jessie (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Zenzinger, Rachel (D) SenatorRachelZ@gmail.com Rep Becker, KC (D) email@example.com Rep Buckner, John (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Court, Lois (D) email@example.com Rep Exum, Tony (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Ferrandino, Mark (D) email@example.com Rep Fields, Rhonda (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Fischer, Randy (D) email@example.com Rep Foote, Mike (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Garcia, Leroy M (D) email@example.com Rep Ginal, Joann (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Hamner, Millie (D) email@example.com Rep Hullinghorst, Dickey Lee (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Kagan, Daniel (D) email@example.com Rep Kraft-Tharp, Tracy (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Labuda, Jeanne (D) email@example.com Rep Lebsock, Steve (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Lee, Pete (D) email@example.com Rep McCann, Beth (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep McLachlan, Mike (D) email@example.com Rep Melton, Jovan (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Mitsch Bush, Diane (D) email@example.com Rep Moreno, Dominick (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Pabon, Dan (D) email@example.com Rep Peniston, Cherylin (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Pettersen, Brittany (D) email@example.com Rep Primavera, Dianne (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Rosenthal, Paul (D) email@example.com Rep Ryden, Su (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Salazar, Joseph A (D) email@example.com Rep Schafer, Sue (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Singer, Jonathan (D) email@example.com Rep Tyler, Max (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Vigil, Edward (D) email@example.com Rep Williams, Angela (D) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Young, Dave (D) email@example.com Rep Buck, Perry (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Conti, Kathleen (R) email@example.com Rep Coram, Don (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep DelGrosso, Brian (R) email@example.com Rep Dore, Timothy (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Everett, Justin (R) email@example.com Rep Gardner, Bob (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Holbert, Chris (R) email@example.com Rep Humphrey, Stephen (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Joshi, Janak (R) email@example.com Rep Landgraf, Lois (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Lawrence, Polly (R) email@example.com Rep McNulty, Frank (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Murray, Carole (R) email@example.com Rep Navarro, Clarice (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Nordberg, Dan (R) email@example.com Rep Priola, Kevin (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Rankin, Bob (R) email@example.com Rep Saine, Lori (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Scott, Ray (R) email@example.com Rep Sonnenberg, Jerry (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Stephens, Amy (R) email@example.com Rep Swalm, Spencer (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Szabo, Libby (R) email@example.com Rep Waller, Mark (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Rep Wilson, Jim (R) email@example.com Rep Wright, Jared (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Balmer, David (R) email@example.com Sen Baumgardner, Randy (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Brophy, Greg (R) email@example.com Sen Cadman, Bill (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Crowder, Larry (R) email@example.com Sen Grantham, Kevin (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Harvey, Ted (R) email@example.com Sen Herpin, Bernie (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Hill, Owen (R) email@example.com Sen King, Steve (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Lundberg, Kevin (R) email@example.com Sen Marble, Vicki (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Renfroe, Scott (R) email@example.com Sen Rivera, George (R) firstname.lastname@example.org Sen Roberts, Ellen (R) email@example.com Sen Scheffel, Mark (R) firstname.lastname@example.org
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.