Meza submits invoices for conversion therapy

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The following article is a press release from the Office of State Rep. Terry Meza.

AUSTIN – State Rep. Terry Meza (D-Irving) announced this week that she has submitted the final bill in a package of three that she submitted to address the practice of so-called “conversion therapy” in Texas.

Meza’s invoices regulate the legality and permissibility of the therapy itself and the reimbursement of the practice by the health insurance company.

House Bill 2516 would prohibit any public or private health insurance company operating or selling policies to Texan consumers from paying for or reimbursing conversion therapies, whether that therapy is provided by a licensed professional or an unlicensed provider. It would also prohibit the state Medicaid program and the Medicaid managed care program from funding conversion therapy.

Meza’s House Bill 2753 prohibits any government agency from a local water authority to a county, county, or state of Texas from purchasing health insurance that reimburses or pays for conversion therapy for their employees.

House Bill 3196 would prohibit regulated nonprofits from offering any type of conversion therapy, regardless of whether it is offered by licensed or unlicensed professionals.

If a nonprofit allows a health care provider or unlicensed individual to conduct conversion therapy through that facility, the Texas Secretary of State could terminate the applicant facility under the Meza bill. In addition, such a company would lose the franchise tax exemption under the Texas Tax Code.

“Most legitimate, licensed, and regulated medical providers don’t offer conversion therapy,” noted Meza. “It is often less regulated entities like nonprofits that are still making this harmful practice accessible to Texas families,” she noted. “Just like a Fortune 500 company, nonprofits are organized under state and federal nonprofit law,” Meza continued. “If a nonprofit allows someone to offer conversion therapy under their umbrella, by my calculations, they forfeit their right to operate in Texas,” she continued.

“After following the topic of conversion therapy for some time, it was important to me that we deal with the practice of unlicensed individuals and those who operate under the umbrella of non-profit organizations.” said Meza.

Regarding her other bills, Meza noted that the best way to reduce their use is to make sure insurance companies don’t cover the cost of conversion therapy if it doesn’t make the practice illegal in Texas.

“I have two bills on this subject. One prohibits any insurance company operating in Texas from paying for conversion therapies. “Texas is a very big marketplace for companies that want to insure government employees,” said Meza. “To do business with Texas government agencies, insurance companies would have to stop paying for conversion therapy if my bill went through,” she noted. “In my view, this would result in a significant decline in conversion therapy insurance policies in the public and private sectors as most insurance companies simply stop paying for a practice when their largest customers are legally prohibited from buying their policies when they do cover them, ”she remarked.

Considered a pseudoscientific practice, conversion therapy is a type of therapy that purports to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual by using a variety of psychological, physical, and religious or spiritual methods. The practice is viewed by most mental illness providers as ineffective and harmful. The American Psychiatric Association opposes and has banned treatment among its members because it is based on the assumption that a person’s sexuality is a mental disorder and the practice of conversion therapy is unethical. In addition, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the American College of Physicians and other medical associations have also condemned the practice.

New Mexico, California, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Illinois, Virginia, New York, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Colorado prohibit the practice. Various counties and parishes including Cincinnati, Ohio; Miami, Florida; Columbus, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Pima County, Arizona also ban the practice.

State Rep. Terry Meza represents Irving and Grand Prairie in their second term in the Texas legislature. Rep. Meza is from Irving and is one of a small handful of former public school teachers who have seats in the Texas House of Representatives. She is a member of the Committee on Human Services, the Committee on Public Education and the Committee on Resolutions Calendars. Meza is a member of the Texas House Democratic Caucus on the Texas Democratic Party Executive Committee and the HDC Steering Committee.

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