Should your insurance premiums go up so individuals can get gender assignment surgery – or coverage for pedophilia? Lawmakers in the Georgia Legislature think so, and are working to raise your premiums as we speak. 

House Bill 1013 was a mental health bill that the House overwhelming passed even though I fundamentally disagreed. Before we ask how we can solve the problem we must ask, should ask, as a government body, is this the proper role of government? HB 1013 should be about good governance, not emotions.

The legislation in question would require insurance companies to cover “a mental health condition or substance use disorder included under any of the diagnostic categories listed” in the more recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association. Not even the federal government imposes such a strict requirement for coverage of every single disease. In fact, a Democratically-controlled Congress rejected just such a mandate in 2008. 

That diagnostic manual also includes mental disorders that many Georgians would find more troubling. For instance, the DSM-5 gender dysphoria as one of its listed diagnoses. As a result, HB 1013 could well force health insurers to cover gender reassignment surgeries and other related therapies. 

Likewise, the DSM-5 includes pedophilia where an individual has “acted on” urges related to sex with minors as one of its disorders. This wording suggests that only actual child molesters would qualify for treatment under HB 1013, even though many Georgians may believe that such individuals deserve criminal punishment. 

And while HB 1013 requires coverage of any number of mental disorders, the bill includes no conscience protections for individuals or employers with religious or moral objections. If the owner of a small business, or the pastor of a small church objects to coverage of some of these disorders, including gender identity and other psycho-sexual conditions, they have absolutely no recourse under the bill. Just like the “little sisters of the poor” did not want to pay for abortions, churches should not be forced to pay for this.

Georgia families are already suffering from high health costs. Premiums more than doubled in the first four years after Obamacare went into effect. Right now, the soaring prices of food, gas and so many essentials are putting a squeeze on family budgets. Imposing requirements that would jack-up rates yet, again to cover conditions that many Georgia residents find questionable or even objectionable represents the last thing struggling families need in this time of skyrocketing inflation. 

We have seen time and again how big-government “solutions” regarding issues like mental health have caused more problems than they fixed. Just in the past months, lawmakers in Washington unsuccessfully tried to block taxpayer funds from being spent on crack pipes, after word leaked that the federal government had created a $30 million grant program to distribute “safe smoking” kits. 

Georgians don’t need higher insurance premiums to subsidize coverage of gender reassignment surgery just like we don’t need to spend taxpayer dollars on crack pipes. When it comes to HB 1013, the Legislature should go back to the drawing board, before ordinary citizen’s start paying the price for lawmakers’ well-meaning but costly intentions. 

While I am legislating on behalf of our community over this next month, I hope you reach out to me with any questions or concerns you have about the legislative process or bills that may be pending. My Capitol office number is 404-656-0213, and my email is

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your State Representative for House District 20.

 God bless,

 Charlice Byrd

State Representative, District 20