DAVENPORT -- A transgender woman from the Quad-Cities won a legal victory Thursday over Iowa Department of Human Services after challenging the state’s ban on using Medicaid funds for sex transition medical procedures.
Quad-Cities resident EerieAnna Good and Carol Ann Beal, of northwest Iowa, jointly filed the lawsuit late last year challenging Iowa’s code’s classification of transition surgeries as “cosmetic.” State administrative code explicitly barred the use of Medicaid for “sex reassignment surgeries.”
On Thursday, Chief District Judge Arthur Gamble ruled the state ban violated the Iowa Constitution and its Civil Rights Act, which has included “gender identity” provisions since 2007.
“DHS has an obligation to keep up with the medical science,” Gamble wrote in his decision. “DHS failed to do so when it denied coverage to Good and Beal for medically necessary gender affirming surgery.”
Gamble also rejected the state’s request to delay implementation of Medicaid-funded reassignment surgery so new rules could be drafted.
American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa represented to the two women.
“We are so relieved for our brave clients that they can finally get the gender confirming surgical care that all their doctors agree is medically necessary for them,” ACLU of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis said in a statement.
ACLU attorneys pointed to inconsistencies within state administrative code regulating what was considered “cosmetic” or “reconstructive.”
Attorneys from Iowa Attorney General’s Office represented DHS in the lawsuit. Attorney General spokesman Lynn Hicks declined comment about whether the state is mulling an appeal.
“We’re looking at the ruling and consulting with our client, DHS, and determining what we’ll do,” Hicks said.
The state has 30 days to appeal Gamble's ruling.
"We certainly don't have a crystal ball," said ACLU spokeswoman Veronica Fowler, when asked about the likelihood of an appeal. "But we certainly don't anticipate it."
Fowler declined to release Good’s city of residence in order to protect her privacy.