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Contract review: AG hiring firm to defend transgender treatment ban

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

The state could spend up to almost $1 million with a Washington-based firm to help the state defend a recently passed law banning gender transition medical treatments for minors.

The Alabama Attorney General’s Office has proposed contracts with five attorneys at Cooper and Kirk PLLC, according to the Legislative Contract Review Committee’s Thursday agenda. Each contract is worth up to $195,000. Typically, the amount listed on contract review agendas is a contract ceiling and won’t necessarily be the amount spent. These one-year contracts begin next month.

A comment from the attorney general’s office wasn’t immediately available. Defending state statutes being challenged in court is a routine function of the office and often requires outside counsel.

“(The attorneys) will provide expert legal assistance in the defense of the State of Alabama’s Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act,” the contract description says.

The law making it a felony to prescribe minors medications to assist in gender transitions was approved and signed in April and temporarily blocked in May by a federal judge. Last week, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, AG Steve Marshall’s office filed a brief using the Dobbs decision in defending the ban on transgender treatments, saying that like abortion, the treatments are not “deeply rooted in our history or traditions,” and thus the state has the authority to ban them.

Medicaid’s coordinated care contracts

Also on Thursday’s agenda are the extensions of Alabama Medicaid’s seven contracts with entities that manage most of the agency’s patient care.

The Alabama Coordinated Health Networks were launched in 2019 with the stated goal of linking patients, providers and community resources in seven regions, according to Medicaid. Delivery of medical services is not part of the networks.

Medicaid at the time said the networks would  improve the quality of care  and incentivize the networks and providers to achieve “quality measures” in the areas of childhood obesity, infant mortality rates and substance abuse disorders.

The one-year contract extensions bring the seven contracts to a total of about $51.6 million since they began.

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