Vanderbilt under federal investigation for complying with state probe over alleged transgender medical fraud

In July, two transgender patients at VUMC filed a lawsuit claiming that the release of medical records under investigation was 'negatively targeting the transgender community.'

The records were released in compliance with an investigation into potential medical billing fraud by the Tennessee Attorney General.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) has come under fire after complying with the Tennessee Attorney General’s request to release the medical information of certain transgender patients, as part of an investigation into alleged medical billing fraud related to transgender surgeries performed by the center.

In July, two transgender patients at VUMC filed a lawsuit against the hospital claiming that the release of the medical records was “negatively targeting the transgender community” and that they were facing a “climate of hostility” in Tennessee. The two patients claimed that Vanderbilt was negligent with its medical records, as the facility never made a legal challenge against Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti.

As such, Vanderbilt is facing a potential civil rights violation by the federal government due to the allegedly unauthorized release of the records.

“People should be able to feel comfortable sharing their personal medical information with their doctors without fear that it will be handed over to the government.” Tricia Herzfeld, the plaintiffs’ attorney, told USA Today.

[RELATED: Hormone therapy, top surgeries part of medical school’s ‘gender-affirming’ care]

John Howser, chief communication officer at VUMC, responded to the lawsuit in a statement on the VUMC website. “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 that investigation, and VUMC was obligated to do so,” he said. “VUMC complies with all health care privacy and security requirements established under both Federal and Tennessee law, including but not limited to HIPAA.”

In 2022, Skrmetti launched an investigation against Vanderbilt University to investigate potential medical billing fraud that could be related to VUMC performing transgender surgeries. The Tennessee AG’s office told USA Today that the fraud investigation is focused on the providers and not patients, and that the private patient health information will be protected.

The Tennessee Attorney General said he planned to investigate VUMC after seeing allegations that employees who objected to the gender transitioning of children were punished by the facility, and that some of the “gender-affirming” treatments were used as a money-making scheme.

[RELATED: Vanderbilt University to stop gender transition surgery on minors]

Last October, VUMC halted transgender surgeries on minors, after pressure by Tennessee Republican leaders who sent a letter demanding the facility put a stop to such surgeries.

After a court ruling on July 10, Tennessee is now allowed to enact its ban on all gender transitioning procedures for minors, which also prohibits puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy for children.

Campus Reform reached out to Vanderbilt University for comment. This article will be updated accordingly. 

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