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House Dem offers bill to ban federal funds for conversion therapy

A new bill from a House Democrat would ban Medicaid funding from being used for conversion therapy for LGBTQ people.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), who co-chairs the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, introduced the Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act on Thursday.

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“Conversion practices are discredited, harmful, and not therapy," Maloney said in a statement. "Fundamentally, conversion tactics are based on the idea that a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation are diseases to be cured -- they have no legitimate medical application and should not be used anywhere,

“Until we can just ban conversion therapy all together, we must ensure taxpayer dollars aren’t funding a fraudulent practice that has been roundly discredited by the medical community," he continued. "That’s exactly what my bill would do.”

The legislation would also address what proponents call dubious billing practices to justify federal funding for the practice. 

"There are currently thousands of coding options for services to be filed to receive reimbursement for billing," Sam Brinton, head of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project, told The Hill. "This legislation would warn a practitioner not to try to use alternative coding or billing tactics such as 'depression' or 'flu vaccine' to be improperly reimbursed for sexual orientation change efforts."

Several national LGBTQ advocacy groups have endorsed the bill, according to Maloney’s office, including the Trevor Project, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

It has also received the endorsement of the National Education Association, Third Way and the National Black Justice Coalition.

The bill is only the latest step by lawmakers to crack down on conversion therapy, which is based on controversial practices that seek to change a person's sexual orientation.

In January, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed into law legislation that would ban gay conversation therapy in the state.

One of the bill’s 63 co-sponsors in the House is Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardSix people whose election wins made history Next Congress expected to have record diversity Native Americans elected to Congress in record numbers this year MORE (D-Hawaii), a 2020 presidential candidate. Gabbard in January apologized for her past remarks critical of LGBTQ people.