Circumcision funding halted

News  Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC). Saturday, 21 September 2002.

Mike Stobbe


North Carolina Medicaid Defunds Circumcision

N.C. will no longer help pay for routine infant procedure through Medicaid program

North Carolina is eliminating Medicaid funding for routine infant circumcisions, a controversial decision that has a minute impact on the state budget but significant implications for some new parents.

The N.C.  External link General Assembly dropped the funding from the budget it approved this week.

I think folks were tired of arguing about it. And I think there was extremely strong sentiment to take it out, said state Sen. Fountain Odom, D-Mecklenburg.

Assuming Gov. Mike Easley signs the budget, most Medicaid-funded circumcisions should come to an end by November, said a spokeswoman for the N.C.  External link Department of Health and Human Services.

Medicaid is the government program that pays medical bills for the poor and disabled.

Circumcision is a surgical procedure to remove the foreskin from a young boy's penis, usually performed in under 10 minutes.

Each year, about 52 percent of N.C. Medicaid male newborns are circumcised. In South Carolina, it's 71 percent.

N.C. legislators say they eliminated the circumcision part of Medicaid for two reasons: Increasingly, doctors' groups have said the procedure is not medically necessary. And because of a budget crunch, necessary services had to be prioritized.

Nine state Medicaid programs do not fund routine infant circumcisions. Three, including North Carolina, stopped this year.

In North Carolina, the budget cut amounts to $400,000, or less than 0.003 percent of the $14.3 billion total budget.

The Medicaid program is funded by state tax dollars with an almost 200 percent federal match, so the $400,000 in state funding for Medicaid circumcisions translates to about $1.25 million overall.

The state will continue to pay for circumcision in cases in which doctors agree circumcision is a medical necessity, said Lois Nilsen, spokeswoman for the state Medicaid program.

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