A few years ago, I officially became a middle-aged dad by tearing my Achilles tendon during a casual game of pick-up basketball in the driveway. A short time later I was at the hospital, where, after a long and rather physically agonizing wait in the waiting room, the doctor gave me Tylenol and told me that I had to get an MRI and see a specialist. A week later, I had finally been officially diagnosed with a torn Achilles, at which point I was informed of all the options and the risks that accompany each option. Of course the only reasonable option was to get a surgery to repair the Achilles, but still I had to be informed that, for example, doing nothing and letting it heal on its own was a path that could be chosen, though it was certainly not recommended. I decided to go with the surgery.
This was all a pretty standard experience. And here’s what didn’t happen. I didn’t make a 22-minute video call and get approved for the surgery based on my claims alone. They didn’t give me an Achilles surgery merely because I said I wanted one. They didn’t simply take my word for it. And if the doctor had looked at the MRI and determined that my Achilles was not torn, he would not do the surgery anyway just to affirm my feeling that it was torn.
That’s not how medicine works. Unless, of course, you work in the gender transition industry.
It’s been 24-hours since we published the results of our undercover investigation into the single largest “trans healthcare” provider in the United States. The provider we’re talking about is called Plume and it operates in 41 states. It’s backed by some of the biggest insurance companies and VCs in the country. And it’s totally fraudulent.
In case you missed it the other day, after a 22-minute video call, Plume approved one of my producers for an orchiectomy — which means testicle removal. No one at Plume had seen my producer, who’s name is Gregg, before that call. They didn’t verify any of his information, which was obviously made up. They didn’t double-check the phony legal name he provided. They didn’t bat an eye when Gregg identified as “Chelsea Bussey,” and claimed to be a strong independent woman in need of immediate castration. No one at Plume thought that there was anything odd about all of this, even though Gregg made precisely zero effort to pass as a woman, and clearly had no idea what an orchiectomy would entail. Plume just rubber-stamped Gregg for testicle removal. All he had to do was send Plume $150. And in return, Plume sent Gregg a letter saying he has “gender dysphoria,” so that insurance would pay for his testicle removal, even though he repeatedly told them he didn’t have gender dysphoria.
Let’s pause for a moment to consider one of the ironies of this whole saga, which Manhattan Institute fellow Leor Sapir pointed out the other day. The same insurance companies that will invent a fake dysphoria diagnosis for a “trans patient” will often refuse to cover healthcare for de-transitioners, on the basis that they don’t have dysphoria. In other words, if you say you’re trans, then health care providers will happily cook the books and say you have “dysphoria” when you don’t. But if you say you’re de-transitioning, and you’re not a member of the preferred class of transgenders, then insurers deny your coverage, because your “identity” now aligns with your biological sex. See how that works?
This politically motivated barbarism, which is totally incoherent, is supposedly the bleeding-edge of “trans healthcare.” You can see footage of Gregg’s call with Plume on Twitter, although fair warning — as Elon Musk said, it is disturbing. It’ll completely destroy your faith in modern “medicine,” assuming you have any faith left, which you probably shouldn’t. Here’s some of Gregg’s call:
10/ Plume quickly scheduled Gregg for a video interview anyway. He assumed the identity “Chelsea Bussey.” He didn’t even attempt to pass. He badly mispronounced the name of the surgery he wanted. He made it clear he didn’t know what effect the surgery would have. pic.twitter.com/ph8UbM3i6r
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) June 7, 2023
Maybe, if you’re playing devil’s advocate as you watch that, you might be tempted to think — well, Gregg fooled them. “Plume did nothing wrong!” you might say. “They had every reason to believe that Gregg was really Chelsea Bussey. and he was really dysphoric, and there were no red flags in that call whatsoever!”
In case you’re contemplating that position for whatever reason, I want to zoom in, CSI-style, on a particular screen grab from Gregg’s conversation with Plume. Here it is.
This is the moment that Plume’s nurse told Gregg about the consequences of removing his testicles. Notice his reaction to the news that he’s about to lose his gonads. He doesn’t seem happy about it. You’d think maybe the Plume nurse would have noticed his reaction, but of course she wasn’t paying any attention whatsoever to what Gregg was doing during that call. They also didn’t care about what he directly told them, as Gregg said that he didn’t have dysphoria, and yet they wrote a letter saying he had it anyway.
And that’s striking, because it goes without saying that any reasonable and ethical health care provider would have taken one look at Gregg, and listened to him, and said, this is ridiculous. Or at the very least, a reasonable and ethical provider would have pushed back a bit against the idea that Gregg needed his testicles removed. But Plume never did. They just took Gregg’s money and sent him a letter authorizing his castration. And as we reported on Twitter, this fraud extends far beyond Plume. Several other “transgender healthcare” services that operate in nearly every state in the country, like “Folx,” are doing the same thing.
So what now? That’s always the key question after an investigation like this. What are people saying about it? Is there going to be any change, or are we all just going to move on to the next thing?
Over at Media Matters, predictably, they’re hoping you ignore our investigation entirely. One of their flacks wrote this:
“If you are an adult and you want to remove your testicles it is not the job of a medical professional to stop you, and it certainly is not Matt Walsh’s job, either. This is not difficult.”
The principle that the Media Matters flack is outlining is, indeed, pretty simple. It’s that adults can do whatever they want. If an adult wants to carve up his testicles, then that’s his right. The problem with that analysis from the Media Matters drone, of course, is that, first of all, it’s depraved and insane. Any moral person would not stand by while someone else butchers themselves. If you saw someone about to stab himself in the stomach, or cut off his own hand, or his testicles, you wouldn’t sit there and say, “Well, adults have the right to do what they want.”
Instead you would intervene, realizing that this person is in deep psychological distress, and must be stopped for their own good. “Rights” have nothing to do with it. But this is irrelevant, anyway, because patients don’t remove their own testicles. Doctors remove patients’ testicles. And in the process, these doctors claim to have a medical basis for the procedure, which we have now proven to be a total lie. These doctors cite standards of care that we’ve proven are fraudulent. It’s not a doctor’s job to perform whatever surgery a patient happens to ask for. They’re supposed to adhere to some standards, they’re supposed to use sound medical judgment, and none of that is happening.
That doesn’t concern the hacks at Media Matters, but it does concern actual doctors. For example, Mary Talley Bowden, who completed her residency at Stanford and now runs her own private practice called Breathe MD, told us:
“Every treatment recommendation from a physician requires a discussion of risks versus benefits, and typically, the higher the risk, the more extensive the discussion. Orchiectomy requires general anesthesia and like any surgery could result in hemorrhage, infection or death… not to mention devastating psychological injury should the patient have a change of heart. It is not appropriate to declare someone fit for surgery – especially one this major – over a 22 minute zoom call with a nurse.”
None of those complications came up in Gregg’s conversation with Plume. They didn’t warn him of any complications, in fact. And that’s crazy because, as Bowden told us, Telehealth is, “Appropriate for minor health problems and low risk treatments.” By contrast, orchiectomy is not a low-risk treatment. It often takes days to approve.
Greg J. Marchand, a surgeon and OB/GYN, was also horrified by what Plume did. Here’s what he told us:
“Informed consent is a critical and essential part of surgery. In the absence of an emergency, it is extremely important that the surgeon or their representatives assure that the patient is completely aware of the nature of the procedure being performed, the likely sequela, and the risks, benefits and alternatives. A life altering decision, such as permanent castration has serious, irreversible consequences. The fact that a medical institution was willing to undertake this surgery only 22 minutes after the “patient” requested this procedure is an unforgivable departure from the standard of care in any city in the United States.”
“At a very minimum, a person undergoing castration should have been alerted of the long and short term changes following castration, including hormonal changes, changes to cardiovascular risk, and changes to fertility and sexual function. Instead this patient found a user-friendly interface they could “click through” to get the surgery covered even though they had just decided they no longer wanted their testicles. There was none of the extensive psychological or psychiatric counseling that should have accompanied any permanent surgical procedure for “gender affirmation.” I don’t see medicine here, this is clearly the tool of a political agenda aimed at mainstreaming so-called “gender affirming” surgery in order to achieve a political goal. I’m frankly terrified for any patients who have previously been through this process and are certainly at high risk for regret after their surgeries.”
That’s the consensus from every serious medical expert we’ve spoken to. After our investigation was published yesterday, we scoured news reports and social media for any contrary opinions from credible people, and we couldn’t find any.
So the question is: If these “trans Telehealth services” are so obviously fraudulent, what can we do about them? What’s going to happen that will shut this down and save thousands of patients from this butchery?
As of today, we haven’t heard anything from Aetna, Cigna, or United Health, which are the three providers that work with Plume. That’s strange when you think about it. Anyone who pays into insurance plans from any of those companies is funding these fraudulent surgeries. You’d think that would prompt some kind of response. After all, the more these insurers have to pay for nonsense operations, the more they have to raise the cost of other operations that are actually necessary from a medical perspective. But these companies, as of now, don’t appear to care about any of that.
We also haven’t heard anything from Craft Ventures, David Sacks, or the other investors in Plume and Folx.
We’ve reached out to the attorneys general of the states where this fraud is happening, including in Tennessee. Here’s what Tennessee AG Jonathan Skrmetti had to say:
“There is no political exception to health care fraud. If any health care providers are cutting corners at the expense of patients and state funds, whether it’s in pursuit of profit or ideology, we want to know about it.”
Senator Marsha Blackburn issued the following statement:
“It is incomprehensible that some health care providers are potentially breaking the law to mislead vulnerable patients and fast-track irreversible procedures. This isn’t health care — it’s forcing an ideological agenda.”
We have received some responses from other key officials. Jack Johnson, the senate majority leader in Tennessee —where both Plume and Folx operate — issued this statement:
“Another disgusting attempt to label the mutilation of children as “healthcare”. I appreciate Matt Walsh for exposing this deranged behavior. This is a real battle, and it is a battle we will win.”
Tennessee state Rep. William Lamberth endorsed that post on social media.
Officials in other states have already responded as well. In Utah, the attorney general’s office has issued a statement calling the reports troubling and saying they make it a priority to investigate this kind of fraud.
At the federal level, Representative Lisa McClain of Michigan is the Chair of the Healthcare and Financial Services Committee in Congress. She provided this statement:
“Only in a country that’s lost its soul can major sex-change surgeries be expedited like buying a fast-pass at a theme park. This is utterly disgusting, and we cannot continue down this path of insanity. It’s time America wakes up to reality and casts away progressive ideology that is literally putting people’s lives at risk.”
Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin issued this statement, which was somewhat ambiguous:
“Telehealth providers operating in Arkansas must, of course, follow our laws, and I stand ready to ensure the law is followed.”
It’s not clear exactly what Griffin is waiting to see, or what he’s going to do to make sure that “trans Telehealth” providers will abide by the law. We have a lot of evidence that these Telehealth providers are operating in Arkansas and ripping off insurance companies in the process. Hopefully Griffin will look into that. After all, it’s his job.
Overall, it’s been only 24 hours since our investigation was published and we are already getting responses from officials who have the power to do something about it. This is what matters to us. We do not chase down these stories and publish them just for the sake of having viral content. We intend to get results and hold people accountable.
What we know for sure is that corporate media will continue to ignore this story. They don’t want you to hear about the scam that is “trans healthcare.” The same media outlets that lined up to condemn ivermectin are telling you that there’s nothing to see here. But the truth is, this isn’t up to them. Insurance companies are getting ripped off, which means that everyone paying into these insurance plans is getting ripped off. Investors have been lied to, which means they can pull their funding at any moment. And several states now have more than enough justification to issue subpoenas to these “Telehealth” providers, to see just how fraudulent their operations really are.
If that happens, a lot of people could be spared gruesome surgeries that are totally unnecessary from any conceivable medical perspective. That’s what’s at stake. That’s the whole reason we’re covering any of this. All it takes now is for our political leaders to act on what we’ve uncovered.