States Drop Circumcision Funds From Medicaid

The latest, Colorado, will save $186,500 a year
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 24, 2011 9:26 AM CDT
States Drop Circumcision Funds From Medicaid
Nurse Angie Hagen tends to a newborn baby boy in the nursery at Denver Health medical facility in Denver on Thursday, June 23, 2011.   (Ed Andrieski)

A nationwide debate about circumcisions for newborn boys, combined with cash-strapped public health budgets, has Colorado taking sides with 17 other states that no longer fund Medicaid coverage of the once widely accepted procedure. For years, Colorado lawmakers considered doing away with funding for circumcisions under Medicaid—a move that would save the state $186,500 a year. Now facing a budget shortfall estimated to be $1 billion at the beginning of this year, lawmakers finally approved the change, which takes effect July 1. "I think 99% of it was completely economic," a Republican senator said.

The matter of circumcisions has gotten contentious in California, where San Francisco will be the first city to hold a public vote in November on whether to ban the practice. Jewish and Muslim families are challenging that proposal in court, claiming it violates their right to practice religion. South Carolina is one of the more recent states to eliminate Medicaid payments for circumcisions. Others include Arizona, California, Florida, Maine and Louisiana. (More circumcision stories.)

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