Metro Weekly

New York Gov. Cuomo orders health insurers to cover fertility treatments for same-sex couples

Order seeks to prevent same-sex couples from being forced to shoulder burdensome out-of-pocket expenses

new york, same-sex couples
Photo: Tallie Robinson, via Unsplash.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has ordered the state Department of Financial Services to require that insurers immediately begin covering fertility service for same-sex couples seeking to conceive.

While current insurance law requires insurers to cover infertility services, that law is not always enforced in practice, leading many same-sex couples to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses for 6 to 12 months before insurers begin providing  coverage for testing and insemination procedures.

The issues was introduced by Cuomo in his State of the State address as a component of the Women’s Agenda and builds upon a number of other actions intended to help women and LGBTQ New Yorkers since Cuomo assumed the governorship in 2010, including the enactment of marriage equality, nondiscrimination protections for transgender individuals, a ban on conversion therapy, the elimination of the gay or trans “panic” defense, the legalization of gestational surrogacy — which passed last year but took effect on Feb. 15 — and, most recently, the repeal of the so-called “Walking While Trans” ban.

“For too long same-sex couples have been denied coverage for immediate infertility benefits, forcing them to pay high — often prohibitive — out-of-pocket costs to start a family,” Cuomo said in a statement. “No New Yorker should be denied the opportunity to become a parent, nor the joys of raising a child, because of their sexual orientation, and this change reflects what we as New Yorkers know to be true: that love is what makes a family, that inclusivity is our strength and that the law should work for all New Yorkers.”

This isn’t the first time Cuomo has taken steps to prohibit discrimination in health care services and access to health insurance coverage.

Two years ago, he issued an order directing the Department of Financial Services to create new regulations ensuring transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers are not discriminated against when attempting to access health insurance coverage, and signed legislation prohibiting insurers from discriminating in the provision of coverage for fertility treatments.

In 2016, Cuomo issued an executive order banning insurers in New York from reimbursing practitioners of conversion therapy, in what was an attempt at the time to effectively end the therapy while circumventing the Republican-led Senate. Democrats later officially banned conversion therapy after winning majorities in the House and Senate following the 2018 midterm elections.

“New York is leading the nation in protecting the rights of all New Yorkers and making it easier to start a family by expanding access to safe and affordable fertility treatments,” Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor and chair of the Council on Women and Girls, said in a statement.

“Family planning is a profoundly personal and emotional journey and it should not be made harder by bureaucracy. These new actions mark a major win for women and the LGBTQ community, and we will continue breaking down barriers to family planning until every New Yorker has access to the protections and services they need to start a family of their own.”

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