A nationwide debate about circumcisions for newborn boys, combined with cash-strapped public health budgets, has Colorado taking sides with 17 other states that no longer fund Medicaid coverage of the once widely accepted procedure.
For years, Colorado lawmakers considered doing away with funding for circumcisions under Medicaid - a move that would save the state $186,500 a year. Now facing a seismic budget shortfall estimated to be $1 billion at the beginning of this year, lawmakers finally approved the change, which takes effect July 1.
"We were just looking at virtually every option and trying to decide what was absolutely urgent now," said Republican Sen. Kent Lambert, a member of the budget-writing Joint Budget Committee. "I think 99 percent of it was completely economic."
The matter of circumcisions has gotten contentious in California, where San Francisco will be the first city to hold a public vote in November on whether to ban the practice.
Jewish and Muslim families are challenging that proposal in court, claiming it violates their right to practice their religion and decide what's best for their children. Supporters of the ballot initiative say male circumcision is a form of genital mutilation that parents should not be able to force on their children.