Iowa court strikes down state ban on Medicaid coverage for transgender care

A two-decade-old state administrative rule “clearly discriminates against transgender Medicaid recipients on the basis of gender identity by excluding coverage for medically necessary gender affirming surgery” while covering the same surgeries for non-transgender Iowans, a Polk County District Court ruled on June 7. Chief Judge Arthur Gamble found the rule violates both Article I, section 6 of the Iowa Constitution, which guarantees equal protection, and the Iowa Civil Rights Act, which has prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity since 2007.

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Don’t hide government officials from the public

Iowa Freedom of Information Council executive director Randy Evans reflects on the flawed draft advisory opinion the Iowa Public Information Board’s staff proposed in response to my inquiry. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I sometimes think government officials overlook the important role the public plays in our system of government.

That was my takeaway last week from the monthly meeting of the Iowa Public Information Board.

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Foreign lobbying will be off-limits for Iowa officials, employees

Continuing a series on Iowa legislative happenings that attracted little notice while the House and Senate were in session.

State officials will be barred from “any outside employment or activity that requires the person to register under the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act,” under a new law that takes effect on July 1. In addition, applicants for state jobs or nominees for any position that requires Iowa Senate confirmation will have to disclose whether they have ever registered as foreign agents.

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Iowa legislative recap: Constitutional amendments

Iowa lawmakers went home for the year on May 5. In the coming weeks, Bleeding Heartland will catch up on some of the legislature’s significant work that attracted relatively attention.

Two proposed state constitutional amendments passed both chambers and could appear on the 2020 general election ballot, if the House and Senate approve them in the same form during either 2019 or 2020.

Three other constitutional amendments cleared one chamber in 2017–in one case unanimously–then stalled in the other chamber as lawmakers completed this two-year session. Those ideas may resurface next year. But since changes to the state constitution must be passed by two consecutively elected legislatures before landing on the general election ballot (the last step in the process), Iowa voters would not be able to ratify those proposals until November 2022 at the earliest.

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New family planning program fails Iowans. Republicans don't want to know

Republican lawmakers made big promises last year that Iowans would have “more access” to family planning services under a new state program that excluded Planned Parenthood.

As anyone could have foreseen, the opposite was true. In the first nine months of the State Family Planning Program’s existence, the number of Iowans enrolled dropped by a third. The number who obtained at least one reproductive health care service fell by more than 40 percent from the first quarter to the second quarter the program was operating. The number of health care providers billing the program also declined by 40 percent during the same time frame.

Republican lawmakers don’t want to hear how poorly the new system is serving their constituents. Even worse, GOP state senators voted unanimously last week to compound the mistake by blocking Planned Parenthood from participating in sex education programs.

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Pretext for secrecy on Jamison firing isn't fooling anyone (updated)

UPDATE: On April 26 the governor’s office released a redacted version of the written complaint against Jamison, now enclosed at the end of this post.

Governor Kim Reynolds and her staff continue to withhold details on the “credible allegations” of sexual harassment that ended Dave Jamison’s tenure as director of the Iowa Finance Authority last month.

To hear her tell the story, the stonewalling is all about protecting Jamison’s victims. But Reynolds could provide more details–and comply with state law–without revealing the accusers’ identities.

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