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New York Expands Fertility Coverage for Same-Sex Couples

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday February 19, 2021

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, at the National Press Club in Washington.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, at the National Press Club in Washington.  (Source:AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced new actions expanding access to fertility coverage for same-sex couples.

Insurers must now begin covering fertility services to same-sex couples who wish to start families. Current state law requires insurers to cover infertility services, but same-sex couples have had to pay six to twelve months out-of-pocket for expenses such as testing and therapeutic donor insemination procedures to qualify for coverage.

Governor Cuomo said, "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. 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."

The Governor introduced the proposal in his 2021 State of the State as a key part of the Women's Agenda, building upon actions to protect the rights of women and the LGBTQ community in New York — including coverage of in-vitro fertilization, enacting the Marriage Equality Act, legalizing gestational surrogacy, repealing the "Walking While Trans" law, and banning both conversion therapy and gay/trans panic defense. Governor Cuomo also recently expanded access to the COVID-19 vaccination for people living with HIV.

Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor and Chair of the Council on Women and Girls, praised the efforts of the New York state government for leading the nation on the issue, saying, "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."

Despite these accomplishments, the Governor is also facing scrutiny over data on nursing home deaths due to COVID-19. Cuomo and his administration are accused of withholding complete and accurate data on the impact of coronavirus. While it was previously reported that 8,500 long-term care residents have died, the number has escalated to approximately 15,000 people in recent weeks. Early this week, Cuomo said the state didn't cover up the deaths and should have moved faster to release data that would provide a more accurate picture, saying "no excuses: I accept responsibility for that." State Senate is preparing to vote on a measure that would require Cuomo to consult with legislators before issuing any emergency order.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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