Metro Weekly

Idaho Bans Health Care Coverage for Transgender Adults

Idaho's governor signed a law preventing Medicaid from covering the costs of gender-affirming treatments for trans adults and youth.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little – Photo: Phil White / Office of the Governor of Idaho

Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little signed a bill into law prohibiting Medicaid and state employee health plans from covering the cost of gender-affirming medications and procedures for low-income transgender adults and minors.

House Bill 668 declares that public funds “shall not reimburse or provide coverage for any surgical operation or medical intervention…for purposes of altering the appearance of an individual in order to affirm the individual’s perception of the individual’s sex in a way that is inconsistent with the individual’s biological sex.”

The bill contains exemptions for certain types of surgical operations or medical interventions, such as those deemed medically necessary; those meant to force intersex people or those with “a medically verifiable genetic disorder of sex development” to conform to binary bodily stereotypes; and those used to help a person “de-transition” or to treat an “infection, injury, disease or disorder that has been caused or exacerbated by” gender-affirming surgery.

It also declares that any transition-related procedures performed to alter a person’s appearance to align with their gender identity, rather than their assigned sex at birth, does not qualify as “medically necessary.”

Because the bill prohibits “public funds,” state employees, like teachers or government workers, are barred from using their employer-sponsored health plan to cover the cost of gender-affirming treatments for themselves or their dependents, reports the Idaho Capital Sun.

The measure’s backers argue that it is necessary to prevent taxpayer dollars from being wasted on efforts to affirm a person’s gender identity.

A sponsor of a nearly identical measure argued that the bill does not completely ban transgender people from obtaining coverage for medical procedures or medications — just as long as those aren’t related to their transition.

“While I have great compassion for those who struggle with these issues [of gender dysphoria], I also understand that the idea of actually creating the function of the opposite sex is a scientific impossibility,” State Rep. Julianne Young (R-Blackfoot), the sponsor of the similar-in-scope House Bill 520 said during debate.

House Bill 668 ultimately passed the Idaho House of Representatives by a 58-11 vote, and the Idaho Senate by a 26-8 vote. If no legal challenge is mounted against the law, it will take effect on July 1.

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