Vanderbilt Hospital Turns Over Transgender Clinic Records To GOP Attorney General In Investigation


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Vanderbilt University Medical Center has turned over records for patients at its pediatric transgender clinic to the state’s Republican Attorney General as part of a medical billing fraud investigation, sparking privacy concerns amid a political environment that is increasingly hostile toward the transgender community.

Key Facts

The hospital told Forbes on Tuesday that it is under investigation for potential medical billing fraud, and was asked by state officials to provide medical records for transgender patients from January 1, 2018 to the present.

A notice sent to VUMC patients and obtained by the Nashville Tennessean said the investigation was into “billing for transgender care services provided to individuals enrolled in State-sponsored insurance plans.”

The office of Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti (R) also confirmed the investigation to the Tennessean and the Nashville Post, saying the probe is focused on the facility and certain providers, not the patients.

Health care legal experts interviewed by the Tennessean, including attorney Paul Hales, said the state has legal authority to collect these records, and hospital officials said they were assured by the attorney general’s office the records would remain confidential.

In a statement to Forbes, John Howser, chief communications officer for VUMC said: “The Tennessee Attorney General has legal authority in an investigation to require that VUMC provide complete copies of patient medical records that are relevant to its investigation,” adding the hospital “was obligated to comply and did so.”

Crucial Quote

“They’re terrified,” Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, told the Tennessean of the families who were informed their medical records were part of an investigation. “They don’t know what’s next, they don’t know how this will be used or whether they will be targeted in some way. They feel like their privacy has been violated.”

Key Background

VUMC’s Pediatric Transgender Clinic suspended operations after a law banning gender-affirming care for minors—including puberty blockers and hormone therapy—passed in the Tennessee state legislature. The bill was signed by Gov. Bill Lee (R) in March. The clinic was thrust into the center of a divisive debate over transgender care when videos surfaced in September 2022 of doctors in the hospital allegedly touting gender-affirming surgeries as “huge money makers” and telling anyone with a religious objection to providing transgender care to quit. The hospital has said its transgender clinic has offered surgery to an average of five minors per year—all of whom were at least 16 and had parental consent—since opening in 2018, none of whom received genital procedures. Conservatives latched onto these videos and launched sharp criticism against the hospital, most notably conservative internet personality Matt Walsh, who originally posted the videos. Last fall, in response to these videos and the backlash they induced from the right, Skrmetti said his office planned to investigate VUMC’s practices.

News Peg

The debate over transgender care in the U.S. has become increasingly vitriolic. Tennessee is one of 17 states to pass bans or restrictions on transgender health care, with three additional states passing such legislation in 2021 and 2022, according to a list compiled by Forbes. The issue has become a rallying cry for the conservative voting base, which has become increasingly hostile to transgender health care, despite statements from major medical associations that the care is often necessary.

Further Reading

Missouri Bans Gender-Affirming Care For Minors—Here Are All The States With Similar Bans Or Restrictions (Forbes)

Vanderbilt turns over transgender patient records to state in attorney general probe (The Nashville Tennessean)

VUMC hands over transgender patient records to state (The Nashville Post)

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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