LGBTI News and Politics


 

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge in Texas has blocked temporarily federal rules that would have expanded medical leave benefits to some gay couples

In a 24-page ruling filed Thursday in Wichita Falls, Texas, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor granted a preliminary injunction that stays expansion of the definition of “spouse” under the Family and Medical Leave Act to include same-sex couples.

Texas filed suit last week to block Friday’s implementation of the change.

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National Policy Office – Washington, DC: 202-835-8373202-835-8373

Program and Administrative Office – Tampa, FL: 813-258-5929813-258-5929

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For Immediate Release: 03.26.15   Media Contact: Carl Schmid: 202.669.8267202.669.8267 CSchmid@theaidsinstitute.org

 

AETNA AGREES TO SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE PATIENT COSTS FOR HIV DRUGS NATIONWIDE

Sets Example for Other Insurers to Lower Costs so Patients

Can Access Medications

 

Washington, DC – The AIDS Institute welcomes a major announcement by Aetna that it will significantly reduce patient costs for HIV medications nationwide in the qualified health plan marketplace.

 

“This is a major victory for people living with HIV who rely on medications to remain healthy,” commented Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director for The AIDS Institute. “We thank Aetna for recognizing that charging excessive co-insurance is wrong and harmful to people with HIV who cannot afford the cost of their medications.”

 

In its announcement, Aetna, along with its Coventry plans, will move all but one HIV drug (an injectable fusion inhibitor) from a specialty tier to either a generic or non-preferred brand tier, lowering patient cost-sharing to co-payments ranging between $5 and $100, after deductibles are met.  Currently, Aetna places almost all HIV drugs on the highest tier and charges beneficiaries co-insurance as high as 50 percent.  This results in patient cost-sharing of about $1,000 a month for some popular HIV drugs, making it almost impossible for patients to access their lifesaving medications.

 

The AIDS Institute and the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) filed a complaint on May 29, 2014, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights, charging four Florida health plans, including Coventry, with unlawful discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS. The four insurers placed all HIV medications, including generics, on the highest cost-sharing tiers with high levels of co-insurance.  According to the complaint, this discourages people with HIV/AIDS from enrolling in their plans. Such practices are prohibited under the Affordable Care Act’s non-discrimination provisions, which bar health plans from discriminating against individuals based upon disability and prohibit health plans from discouraging enrollment by people with significant health needs.

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year cautioned insurers that placing all or most drugs in a class or to treat a certain condition on a high cost tier may be discrimination.

 

Late last year, Aetna, in an agreement with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation,   lowered the cost of 4 brand HIV drugs to $200 per month and put HIV generic drugs on the generic tier.  In reaction to that agreement, The AIDS Institute praised Aetna for this initial step, but noted it did not lower the cost of the majority of HIV medications, and was only for one year in the State of Florida.  As part of the agreement, Aetna was required to meet with The AIDS Institute, NHeLP, and AHF.  That meeting was held in Washington DC on January 28, 2015.

 

The cost-sharing reductions announced by Aetna are effective June 1, 2015 and will continue nationwide in the individual market through 2016.  In its announcement, Aetna indicated that patients may access HIV drugs either through retail or mail order pharmacies and receive up to a 90-day supply.

 

While other insurers in Florida and around the country design their plans with reasonable cost-sharing for medications, a growing number are using co-insurance, making it more difficult for patients, especially those with chronic conditions, to access their medications.  A recent study released by Avalere found that the proportion of bronze and silver plans using specialty tier coinsurance greater than 30% increased by 14 percent from 2014 to 2015.

 

“Aetna’s announcement will help ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the country will have greater access to essential medicines at a more affordable cost,” said Michael Ruppal, Executive Director for The AIDS Institute. “However, there are still many other insurers who are charging patients excessive costs for their HIV medications and this does not impact a patient’s non-HIV medications or other beneficiaries with other health conditions.  We look forward to working with Aetna and other insurers to address continuing barriers to care and treatment, including inadequate drug formularies, high cost co-insurance & deductibles, and restricted networks for people with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other chronic health conditions.”

 

The AIDS Institute also calls upon the federal government to do its part and enforce the strong ACA non-discrimination provisions.  Insurers will soon be submitting their 2016 plans to the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight for review, and we hope there will be greater scrutiny of drug coverage, high cost sharing, and discriminatory benefit design.

 

The AIDS Institute and NHeLP are still awaiting action on its pending discrimination complaint filed against Coventry, Humana, Cigna, and Preferred Medical.

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The AIDS Institute is a national nonprofit organization that promotes action for social change through public policy research, advocacy and education.

 

For more information and to become involved, visit www.TheAIDSInstitute.org or write to us at Info@theaidsinstitute.org, and follow The AIDS Institute on Twitter @AIDSAdvocacy and Facebook at www.facebook.com/The-AIDS-Institute


Welcome to Indiana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lot of people are pissed at Indiana’s new “religious freedom” bill.

| Metro Weekly | March 27, 2015

Signed into law by Governor Mike Pence (R) yesterday, it allows business owners to discriminate against LGBT people for religious reasons. Yes, Indiana’s religious bigots are now free to kick you out of their stores, restaurants and bars, or refuse your cake order, wedding ring purchase or choice of venue, all thanks to Governor Pence and the state’s Republican-dominated General Assembly.

Unsurprisingly, the new law hasn’t gone down well. Business leaders, politicians and celebrities have taken to social media and issued statements decrying the law — which could ultimately have huge ramifications for Indiana’s economy, if boycotts and severed business relationships have an effect.

We’ve gathered together some of the best reactions, so scroll down and enjoy the overwhelming support for LGBT freedom and equality, from Hillary Clinton, Tim Cook, Miley Cyrus, Audra McDonald and more.

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A South African father (not pictured) who had a baby born by a surrogate mother has won the right to paid maternity leave.

A South African father (not pictured) who had a baby born by a surrogate mother has won the right to paid maternity leave. Photo: Jessica Shapiro

Stephanie Findlay | The Age | March 28, 27, 2015

Johannesburg: Gay men who have a baby born by a surrogate mother are entitled to paid maternity leave, a South African court has ruled.

The father, who has not been named, took his case to a labour court in Durban after his employer – the state information technology agency – refused to give him the full customary four months of paid leave. It argued that maternity leave applied only to women who had recently given birth.

The man, who asked to remain anonymous to protect the identity of his child, was married in a civil union in 2010. He entered a surrogacy agreement a year later and applied for leave in anticipation of the birth of the child in 2012.

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President Obama and his cabinet. (photo: Jabin Botsford/The New York Times)
President Obama and his cabinet. (photo: Jabin Botsford/The New York Times)

Jonathan Weisman | The New York Times | March 27, 2015

n ambitious 12-nation trade accord pushed by President Obama would allow foreign corporations to sue the United States government for actions that undermine their investment “expectations” and hurt their business, according to a classified document.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership — a cornerstone of Mr. Obama’s remaining economic agenda — would grant broad powers to multinational companies operating in North America, South America and Asia. Under the accord, still under negotiation but nearing completion, companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.

Backers of the emerging trade accord, which is supported by a wide variety of business groups and favored by most Republicans, say that it is in line with previous agreements that contain similar provisions. But critics, including many Democrats in Congress, argue that the planned deal widens the opening for multinationals to sue in the United States and elsewhere, giving greater priority to protecting corporate interests than promoting free trade and competition that benefits consumers.

 Read more


Friends:

The purpose of my message is simple –  to inform you of more discriminatory bills pending in the Alabama House and Senate.  Equality Alabama, along with other local and national partners, has outlined specific strategies in an attempt to defeat the following proposed laws:

HB 50

Under existing law, it is a Class C misdemeanor to knowingly transmit, or assume the risk of transmitting, a sexually transmitted disease to another person.  This bill would increase the criminal penalty for such an offense to a Class C Felony!

HB 56 This bill would authorize judges and other public officials who are legally authorized to solemnize marriages to discriminate based not only on the gender of the spouses, but on any basis, including race, religion, disability, or any other protected status.   That would be a huge change in Alabama law, and it would also violate the federal constitutional requirement of equal protection. 

SB261

This bill authorizes government-contract agencies to deny services, including counseling and shelter, to vulnerable children in State custody. This bill also authorizes agencies to deny children in State custody placements with families that are in their best interest – all based on the religious beliefs of the agency and not the needs of the child.

Faith leaders, government agencies and local businesses are currently being contacted to stand with us – – to send a clear message to our lawmakers  – – that these bills are discriminatory, bad for the economy and harmful to families and children.  These bills  will have devastaing consequences!

This is a critical time here in Alabama. The fight continues for marriage equality and workplace nondiscrimination protections.

 

 Please join us Monday, March 30, 2015 at Rogue Tavern beginning at 6:00 PM for a Legislative Update to learn more.

Warm regards,


Lambda Legal | Making the case for equality
   Join us on:  Facebook  Twitter  You Tube March 27, 2015

NYLA 2015 - Honoree Graphic Cropped for Eblast

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The 29th Annual Liberty Awards Dinner is Lambda Legal’s premier national event. Attracting individual and corporate supporters from the New York Metro Area as well as across the country, the Liberty Awards raises $1 million for Lambda Legal. Join us for an evening of tribute to those who have made an impact on the lives of LGBT and HIV-affected people.

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