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Media Contact:
Alex Medina
Director of Communications
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amedina@apla.org
09.30.20

APLA Health Applauds Governor Newsom for Signing Landmark Legislation for LGBTQ and HIV Communities

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people living with HIV have been unable to obtain life and disability income insurance in California because of an outdated and discriminatory law that allows insurance companies to deny coverage based solely on the results of an HIV test,” APLA Health Chief Executive Officer Craig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 health care 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:

  • AB 2218 by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) will establish the Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund. Upon appropriation by the Legislature, the fund will provide grants to organizations serving transgender, gender-nonconforming and intersex (TGI) people for medical and support services such as gender-affirming health care and housing case management;
  • SB 132 by Senator Wiener will require the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to house TGI individuals according to their own sense of where they will be safest;
  • SB 145 by Senator Wiener will prevent discrimination against LGBTQ people in sex crime convictions;
  • AB 2077 by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) will allow pharmacists to continue furnishing sterile syringes to adults without a prescription until January 1, 2026.