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Idaho governor signs bill banning use of public funds for gender-affirming care

Transgender people in Idaho will no longer be able to use Medicaid and other publicly funded programs to help cover the cost of gender-affirming medical care under a new state law set to take effect in July.

Republican Gov. Brad Little quietly signed the measure Wednesday, a day after receiving it from Idaho’s GOP-controlled Legislature. Little’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

The law, which is set to take effect July 1, bars the use of public funds for puberty blockers, hormones, and surgeries for transgender minors and adults and prevents government-owned facilities from providing them.

Those who intentionally violate the law could face misuse of public funds charges, which carry a penalty of up to $10,000 in fines and imprisonment between one and 14 years.

Idaho joins a growing coalition of Republican-led states in banning Medicaid funding for gender-affirming care for transgender people of all ages, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit organization that tracks LGBTQ laws. The Medicaid policies of three states explicitly exclude transition-related care for minors.

A federal judge in June struck down a Florida rule excluding gender-affirming health care from Medicaid coverage, writing in a 54-page opinion that Florida had adopted the rule “for political reasons.” That same month, a federal judge in Arkansas blocked the state’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors, including in the state’s Medicaid program.

Little has said on several occasions that he does not believe public funds should be used for gender-affirming care. In a May letter to Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare, Little said he was opposed to using Medicaid funds for puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries for transgender children and adults.

“Hardworking taxpayers should not be forced to pay for an adult’s sex reassignment surgery,” he wrote.

In April, Little signed legislation making it a felony for health care providers to administer gender-affirming care to minors in Idaho. In a letter to House leadership, Little wrote that while it is important to protect minors “from surgeries or treatments that can irreversibly damage their healthy bodies,” as lawmakers, “we should take great caution whenever we consider allowing the government to interfere with loving parents and their decisions about what is best for their children.”

A federal judge in December temporarily blocked the state’s ban from going into effect. In February, Idaho appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

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