Weird Healthcare Regulation of the Day: No Coverage for Men With Breast Cancer

“Disease does not discriminate, but apparently Medicaid coverage does. A 26-year-old South Carolina tile-layer has found himself with breast cancer and out of luck for one reason: He is a man. While breast cancer affects an estimated 2,000 men annually, Medicaid does not cover treatment of the disease in men,” reports the Daily Caller. “The South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said that the discriminatory policy lies with the federal government. ‘We are again urging CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services] to reconsider,’ the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement. ‘It’s a very clear example of how overly rigid federal regulations don’t serve the interests of the people we’re supposed to be helping.'”

The man with cancer, Raymond Johnson, is hardly an anomaly.  There have been high-profile cases of men with breast cancer, like former Senator Ed Brooke (R-Mass.), the first popularly-elected black U.S. Senator.  But the federal geniuses who are taking over our healthcare system don’t seem to read the paper.

The government justifies its actions by citing a regulation that bars covering men. But the regulation itself is unconstitutional.  The government cannot engage in sex discrimination or sex-based classifications unless it has an “exceeding persuasive justification” that goes beyond mere administrative convenience or gender-based generalizations; it must show that any gender classification substantially advances important state interests; and the burden of showing the need for such discrimination is on the government, which must satisfy a “demanding” showing. See the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Virginia (1995), which struck down VMI’s men-only policy, and cases like Craig v. Boren (1976), and Michigan Road Builders v. Milliken (1987), which applied similar principles to strike down gender classifications that harmed men.