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California bans state travel to Iowa because state's Medicaid won't fund gender transition surgery

California officials view Iowa's law as discriminatory

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) announced a ban on state-funded travel to Iowa on Friday in response to an Iowa law that prohibits Medicaid from covering gender transition surgeries, according to The Sacramento Bee.

Iowa becomes the latest addition to a list that also includes Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas under a 2016 law, Assembly Bill 1887, which bans state-sponsored travel to states that enact laws perceived as discriminatory on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

From the website of the California Office of the Attorney General:

In AB 1887, the California Legislature determined that "California must take action to avoid supporting or financing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people." (Gov. Code, § 11139.8, subd. (a)(5).) To that end, AB 1887 prohibits a state agency, department, board, or commission from requiring any state employees, officers, or members to travel to a state that, after June 26, 2015, has enacted a law that (1) has the effect of voiding or repealing existing state or local protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; (2) authorizes or requires discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; or (3) creates an exemption to anti-discrimination laws in order to permit discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. (Gov. Code, § 11139.8, subds. (b)(1), (2).) In addition, the law prohibits California from approving a request for state-funded or state-sponsored travel to such a state.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March 2019 that gender transition surgeries must be covered under Medicaid, since the state's Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination or refusal of service to people based on gender identity. So, the Iowa Legislature passed, and Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed, a bill that specifically excluded gender transition surgeries from Medicaid coverage.

"The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming healthcare," Becerra said in a statement. "California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it."

The Iowa ban goes into effect Oct. 4.

The travel ban is technically supposed to prevent public colleges and universities from participating in events in locations on the no-travel list, but this is enforced on a discretionary basis, particularly when it comes to college athletics programs, which continue to compete in banned states.

College athletics may, in at least some scenarios, fall under one of the documented exceptions to this law, which include instances involving contractual obligations incurred before Jan. 1, 2017, law enforcement matters, tax collection, and litigation, among others.

(H/T: Hot Air)

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