Iowa passes bill that would ban Medicaid from covering transition care

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Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines. (Image by David Mark from Pixabay)

Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines. (Image by David Mark from Pixabay)

DES MOINES — The GOP controlled Iowa legislature has passed a law banning Medicaid from covering transition-related healthcare for transgender people.

The move comes after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that Medicaid could be used to cover transition healthcare.

The Des Moines Register reported that the House voted on the bill Saturday, the day after it was passed by the State Senate. No Democrats voted for the bill. It now heads to GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds and would go into effect immediately after being signed.

The Register said that the bill would ban any Iowa taxing body from providing gender confirmation surgery surgery. It  reportedly applies to any other cosmetic reconstructive or plastic surgery procedure related to “transsexualism, hermaphroditism, gender identity disorder, or body dysmorphic disorder.”

“Accessing medically necessary treatment is a matter of life and death for many transgender Iowans. By passing this legislation, our state has sent the appalling message that transgender people are second-class citizens in our state. Make no mistake, this cruel bill threatens people’s lives,” said One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel.

“Protecting transgender people from discrimination is settled law in Iowa, and has been since 2007. The Iowa Supreme Court made clear that the Iowa Civil Rights Act protects transgender Iowans against Medicaid discrimination in their unanimous ruling just over one month ago. If this bill becomes law, it will not stand up to legal muster and stick taxpayers with the bill for ensuing lawsuits.”

Mark Stringer, executive director of the ACLU of Iowa, told the Register that  the proposal has “no basis in medicine or science.”

The state Department of Human Services had classified gender-transition related surgeries as “cosmetic, reconstructive or plastic surgery.” The state Supreme Court unanimously determined the ban violated the Iowa Civil Rights Act’s gender-identity protections. The previous ban had been an administrative policy, not a law.

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