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Judge hears arguments for injunction in transgender surgery case

DES MOINES — A Polk County judge heard arguments Tuesday as the ACLU of Iowa seeks an injunction on a provision in the health budget bill passed by the Iowa legislature in April that allows organizations using public insurance dollars to opt out of covering transgender surgery.

The law was passed just weeks after a state Supreme Court decision struck down a ban on using Medicaid dollars for transition-related surgery. ACLU attorney Rita Bettis Austen argued at the hearing that excluding transgender patients from coverage has been addressed by that decision.

“This court has already recognized in the Good case that there is no government interest in excluding transgender from this Medicaid coverage for medically necessary procedures,” Bettis Austen says.

Attorney James Ogden argued on behalf of the state that the law does not actually ban Medicaid from covering the procedure and clarifies the scope of the Civil Rights Act. “The challenged provision does not bar the petitioners from seeking these surgical, gender-affirming surgeries through Medicaid, and perhaps most importantly it does not prohibit DHS from providing those services through the Medicaid program,Ogden says.

Polk County District Court Judge David Porter says he will issue a ruling on the temporary injunction by next Monday.


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