Iowa Senate bill excludes transition-related services from public-funded insurance coverage


Columnist Olivia Rasmussen believes it is more important than ever to raise awareness of what violence and discrimination the transgender community endures. Rasmussen notes that while there is still a lot of hatred, improvements in education and compassion are important factors in becoming an ally.

Logan Metzger

The Iowa Senate introduced an amendment to the Health and Human Services budget bill, HF 766, Friday. The amendment, S-3247, excludes transition-related medical services for transgender Iowans from all insurance coverage funded by public dollars, including Medicaid, and prevents Planned Parenthood from engaging in competitive bidding for certain sexual education grants.

Keenan Crow, director of policy and advocacy for One Iowa, said this bill doesn’t prohibit public entities from providing transition-related medical services but effectively reverses the March 8th Supreme Court ruling that said Medicaid would provide that coverage.

You can find more information on the court ruling here.

Less than 24 hours after its introduction, the Iowa Senate passed with 31 yeas and 17 nays and the Iowa House passed with 54 yeas and 44 nays. If Gov. Kim Reynolds signs the bill, the restrictions go into effect immediately.

The immediate enactment of this bill would mean that individuals going into surgeries this week or the day that Gov. Reynolds signs the bill would not receive insurance coverage for those surgeries.

“Protecting transgender people from discrimination is settled law in Iowa, and has been since 2007,” said Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, executive director of One Iowa, in a press release. “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. In response, a small group of legislators want to pick and choose who deserves protections under the law, and it’s clear they think of transgender Iowans as second-class citizens. This amendment is a harmful attempt to deny transgender Iowans medically necessary care.”

Hoffman-Zinnel said all young people, including LGBTQIA+ youth, deserve the sex education and health care they need to stay healthy and plan their future.

The exact wording of the amendment to the bill is “this section shall not require any state or local government unit or tax-supported district to provide for sex reassignment surgery or any other cosmetic, reconstructive, or plasticsurgery procedure related to transsexualism, hermaphroditism, gender identity disorder, or body dysmorphic disorder. This division of this Act, being deemed of immediate importance, takes effect upon enactment.”

The amendment uses terminology now out of date and considered harmful, such as “transsexual” and “hermaphrodite.”

“Transsexual and hermaphrodite are not accurate terms, they are very offensive and archaic,” Crow said. “The proper terms are transgender and intersex.”

Cecil Rickerl, junior in pre-integrated studio arts, said that the lack of proper language shows how little the politicians really care about the issues and that they didn’t even bother to do a simple Google search.

One Iowa has sent out action alerts to constituents urging them to reach out to Gov. Reynolds directly and will be meeting with the governor’s staff to ask them for a line-item detail of the bill.

“[This bill needs to be rescinded] so trans and intersex people who want hormone therapy or gender reaffirming surgery can get it and eliminate dysphoria and the mental health issues it causes,” Rickerl said.