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Iowa Supreme Court OKs Medicaid for transgender treatment

By Danielle Haynes
Iowa Supreme Court OKs Medicaid for transgender treatment
The Iowa Supreme Court cited the state's Civil Rights Act, which protects transgender people from discrimination. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

March 8 (UPI) -- Iowa's Supreme Court on Friday ruled that transgender people may use Medicaid to pay for transition treatment.

The high court upheld a lower court's ruling that struck down an Iowa administrative code labeling transgender-related surgery as "cosmetic, reconstructive or plastic surgery." The Iowa Department of Human Services appealed the lower court ruling to the Supreme Court.

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The case came about as a lawsuit by two transgender women -- Eerieanna Good and Carol Beal -- who sought a review of the administrative code after being denied coverage for gender-affirming surgeries.

The Iowa Supreme Court said it upheld the lower court's rulings because the administrative code violates the Iowa Civil Rights Act, which added "gender identity" to the state's list of protected individuals in 2007.

"The ICRA's gender identity classification encompasses transgender individuals -- especially those who have gender dysphoria -- because discrimination against these individuals is based on the non-conformity between their gender identity and biological sex," Justice Susan Christensen wrote in the ruling. "This prohibition against denying coverage for Good's and Beal's gender-affirming surgical procedures extends to the director and staff of the DHS, as well as its agents, the MCOs."

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Lynn Hicks, a spokeswoman for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, thanked the high court for resolving the case.

"As the ruling showed, this case presented a difficult question involving individual rights and the state's interests," she said in a statement to the Des Moines Register.

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