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Iowa’s New Budget Targets Trans Health Care Access

Iowa governor Kim Reynolds signs health care budget bill restricting transgender access and Planned Parenthood funding.

“This bill will not save Iowan taxpayers a nickel but will force transgender Iowans to face severe hardship.”

Iowa's governor just signed a bill that will make it way harder for trans people to get gender-affirming surgeries in the state.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed off on Iowa's healthcare budget bill on Friday without contesting two "controversial" provisions added to the bill "last-minute," The Des Moines Register reports. One of these provisions cuts sex education funding to Planned Parenthood, a frequently targeted healthcare provider that offers abortion as well as other reproductive health services. The other provision allows state and local governments to refuse to let trans Iowans use public funds like Medicaid to pay for sex reassignment surgery or any other transition-related or gender-affirming surgery.

"This bill will not save Iowan taxpayers a nickel but will force transgender Iowans to face severe hardship," says Mara Keisling, the National Center for Transgender Equality's Executive Director, in a statement to Out.

The provision runs directly counter to a recent, unanimous Supreme Court of Iowa ruling that said that trans people in the state could fund their transition-related and otherwise gender-affirming surgical procedures through Medicaid, which had previously been prohibited. Considering the trans community's disproportionate poverty rates and, thus, disproportionate likelihood to be on Medicaid, the ruling was very beneficial, not to mention humane.

"The entire medical world knows exclusions like these put dangerous barriers between people and the safe and effective health care their doctors say they need," says Keisling. "I'm sorely disappointed to see Gov. Reynolds put her signature on such a backwards policy, one that will certainly stain Iowa's reputation as a welcoming place for employers, current residents, and visitors."

RELATED | Trans People in Iowa Can Now Fund Their Surgeries Through Medicaid

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