APLA Health applauds Governor Newsom for signing landmark legislation for the LGBTQ and HIV communities, including a bill to end discrimination against people living with HIV by life and disability income insurance companies. SB 1255 — The Equal Insurance HIV Act — was authored by Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) and the Senate Committee on Insurance and co-sponsored by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and Equality California.
“For too long, people living with HIV have been unable to obtain life and disability income insurance in California because of an outdated and discriminatory law that allows insurance companies to deny coverage based solely on the results of an HIV test,” APLA Health Chief Executive Officer Craig E. Thompson said. “HIV has changed dramatically since the 1980s and it’s about time our laws change as well. We are grateful to Senator Gonzalez and Insurance Commissioner Lara for championing this important legislation to ensure people living with HIV can access the protection they for need for themselves and their families.”
Under the new law, insurance companies will not be able to deny an application for life or disability income insurance based solely on the results of a positive HIV test. Life and disability income insurers will only be able to restrict coverage or charge a different rate for people living with HIV “if the refusal, limitation, or charge is based on sound actuarial principles and actual or reasonably anticipated experience.” The new law applies to policies issued on or after January 1, 2023.
Newsom also signed legislation requiring comprehensive data collection to understand how COVID-19 and other communicable diseases impact the LGBTQ community. SB 932, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), is the first law in the country to require healthcare providers to report sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data for all reportable communicable diseases. The legislation builds on an announcement from the Newsom administration in July that it would require SOGI data collection for COVID-19 and other reportable communicable diseases.
“Only because of robust and comprehensive data collection have we been able to understand and address the disproportionate impact of HIV on Black and Latinx communities, gay and bisexual men, and transgender women,” Thompson continued. “We applaud Governor Newsom and Senator Wiener for taking decisive action to ensure we have similar data to understand the impact of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases on LGBTQ individuals. This data is critical to ensure adequate resources are allocated to address the unique needs of our communities.”
Newsom signed several other important LGBTQ and HIV bills:
APLA Health restores dignity and trust within underserved communities by providing world-class LGBTQ+ empowering healthcare, support services, and HIV specialty care. Since 1983, APLA Health has remained steadfast in its commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our lifetime. The agency is a multi-site operation includes eight Federally Qualified health Center (FQHC) locations, serving more than 18,000 people annually in Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous. We provide 20 different services including: medical, dental, behavioral health and HIV specialty care; PrEP counseling and management; health education and HIV prevention; and STD screening and treatment. For people living with HIV, we offer housing support; benefits counseling; home healthcare; and the Vance North Necessities of Life Program food pantries; among several other critically needed services. Additionally, we are leaders in advocating for policy and legislation that positively impact the LGBTQ+ and HIV communities and conduct community-based research on issues affecting the communities we serve. For more information on APLA Health visit https://aplahealth.org.