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Archive for the ‘LGBT parenting’ Category

Could You Use $13,570 to Build Your Family?

By Tracey Minella

November 16th, 2017 at 2:07 pm

 

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You wouldn’t want to lose $13,570, would you? Well, if you are even remotely considering adopting a child someday, you need to read on.

Both LGBT and heterosexual couples often turn to adoption to create their families. Some may go straight to adoption. Others may first try Assisted Reproductive Technologies (“ART”) like in vitro fertilization (“IVF”) and then pursue adoption if those attempts fail. And some try both adoption and ART simultaneously, ready to accept whichever brings them a child first.

For ages, adoption was the primary route many LGBT couples took to become parents. Gay men (having no eggs or uterus to work with) had little choice before the advent of donor egg and gestational carriers. Unfortunately, private newborn adoptions historically favored placement with heterosexual couples, often leaving LGBT wannabe parents to seek adoption through the foster care system. Sometimes, to reduce the wait time for placement, they’d be encouraged to consider older or special needs children.

While more open-minded than in the past, some of today’s birth parents still cling to those old prejudices when choosing adoptive parents, holding out for the so-called “traditional” parental unit–a married heterosexual couple– rather than an LGBT couple or single parent.

At Long Island IVF, rapidly-advancing assisted reproductive medical technology has opened many avenues to family-building for LGBT couples who want to have a biological child. Depending on the particular circumstances, these options may include using donor egg, donor sperm, gestational carriers, or reciprocal IVF. These advancements, coupled with hard-fought legal victories for LGBT marital and parental rights, did—and continue to– change the parenting options landscape for members of the LGBT community.

In spite of these the medical and legal developments, adoption is still the choice of many couples. The idea of giving a stable home to a foster child that is waiting for love is preferable to many couples, even those who could pursue or had success with medical options.

But whether you choose adoption or ART to build a family, there are financial concerns and the costs of either option can pose a barrier to many couples. Every financial family-building resource, benefit, insurance, or credit that exists must remain accessible to all who need it. For those who choose to adopt, that means preserving the federal Adoption Tax Credit.

There’s a lot going on in the political and infertile world—some front-burner and other back-burner movements. One of the hottest items in the news right now is the fate of the federal Adoption Tax Credit.

The federal Adoption Tax Credit is available to American families to help off-set the costs of adoption. It applies to all adoptions– private domestic, international, and through foster care.

In a nutshell, it’s a federal tax credit currently capped at $13,570 for qualified adoption expenses, though it is affected by the family’s income and tax liability. According to Resolve, the National Infertility Organization’s website:

  • Families earning over $203,540 may only claim a partial credit
  • Families earning over $243,540 are not entitled to any credit
  • Families adopting a special needs foster child may claim the maximum credit
  • The credit may be used for up to five additional years if there is not enough tax liability to apply the full amount of the credit in the first year, and it’s non-refundable.
  • The government saves an estimated $65,000-$127,000 per child that’s adopted out of long-term foster care.

The federal Adoption Tax Credit made headlines after appearing to be on the chopping block as part of the current administration’s upcoming Tax Reform proposal. This caused adoption and infertility rights advocates and religious organizations to leap into action to save the tax credit. Without it, countless children will remain in foster care because those who want to adopt them will not be able to afford to do so. Further, those pursuing private domestic or international adoptions may not be able to afford to those options without the credit.

Fortunately, the most recent reports from last week indicate that the political tide is turning in favor of saving the Adoption Tax Credit, but all those who believe it should be saved need to step up and support it. Do it for yourself or someone you love. Or just do it for the good of orphans and kind-hearted strangers. If you were adopting a child today, wouldn’t you want that tax credit?

If you’d like to lend your voice to the effort, you can contact your local representatives or join the efforts of RESOLVE–the group that fights tirelessly for the rights of all members of the infertile community. You can check out the political initiative here.

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Are you or would you consider adopting a child? Would losing the Adoption Tax Credit impact your ability or choice to adopt?

 

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Long Island IVF “Coming Out Infertile” Day Workshop

By Tracey Minella

November 13th, 2017 at 8:46 am

If you’re suffering in silence, you’ve got a date with us tonight.

Are you dreading the winter holiday season that’s only a week away? More silent suffering with your secret struggle of trying to start or build your own family? All those nagging questions about when are you finally going to have that baby? Being surrounded with nieces and nephews and their wish lists? Surprise pregnancy announcements at almost every gathering? Ugh.

Well, Long Island IVF can help. We’re proud to sponsor the third annual “Coming Out Infertile” Day on November 13, 2017 with a “Tired of the Secret?” special workshop for those suffering in silence from infertility. All are welcome and its free. No need to be a patient. If you haven’t registered yet, there is still time to come down.

Coming Out Infertile Day was conceived to encourage those suffering from infertility to “come out” to their families, friends, and/or employers if they feel ready to do so… and to help them with the tools they need to do so. And most importantly, to come out in a way that feels right for them.

Infertility is a devastating disease that affects 1 out of every 8 couples. In addition to the pain and fear that comes with this diagnosis, many couples feel the unwarranted stigma of shame and guilt. Consequently, they keep their infertility a secret—even from their family and closest friends.

They are often afraid…or don’t know how… to tell their families and friends (or their employers) that they are having trouble getting or staying pregnant and need treatment. So they suffer in silence. Often for many months or years.

The holiday season, with its focus on children and families, is a particularly hard time for infertile folks who are easy targets for nagging personal questions about baby-making plans. So, a week before the emotional onslaught is the perfect time to offer help “coming out”. You can come out today or plan to come out on Thanksgiving or some other time during the holiday season that feels right.

Coming Out Infertile Day…seven months after National Infertility Awareness Week in April and right before the stress of the holidays…is a timely public reminder of the pain of infertility and a chance for those suffering to come out and get support.

Long Island IVF is offering “Tired of the Secret?”—a free Coming-Out Infertile Workshop on November 13, 2017 from 6:30-8:30 pm at its offices at 8 Corporate Center Drive, Melville, New York. Led by our own Mind-Body medicine expert and psychologist, Bina Benisch, MS, RN, who specializes in counseling infertility patients, attendees will be given the support they need to come out infertile in a manner that’s right for them. Are you ready to tell just your parents? Or your best friend? The whole family? Need to know how to break it to your boss? We can help. The workshop is free but pre-registration is requested, so register here.

It’s time to end the stigma of infertility. It’s time to unburden yourself from the added weight of this secret and get the support you need. It’s time to #comeoutinfertile.

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What is holding you back from coming out infertile?

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Mind Body Medicine and Fertility- Free Reiki Series

By Bina Benisch, MS, RN

September 27th, 2017 at 9:35 pm

I am excited to report that Long Island IVF’s’ Fertility Meditation Reiki series has been an amazing addition to our Mind Body Medicine program. The most recent free series runs from October 2-October 30 at 6:30-7:30 pm each Monday night.

Register here to reserve your spot. Come to any or all of the sessions—no need to be a patient.

The interconnection between mind and body makes it imperative that we treat the whole person, and not just one organ or one system of the person.  Our mind influences our thoughts.  Our thoughts influence our feelings, our feelings influence the biochemistry of our physical body.  Physiological changes in the brain are reflected in our hormones – stress hormones (cortisol) and reproductive hormones.

The chicken/egg dilemma:

It doesn’t really matter which came first — physical/biochemical issues affecting the mind OR the mind affecting the physical/biochemistry.   It’s all connected, so what DOES matter is treating the WHOLE system – mind and body.

A factual premise of Mind Body Medicine is based on eliciting what has been termed  “The Relaxation Response (RR).”   The RR is the physiological opposite of the stress response.  Therefore, when the RR is elicited, stress hormone levels (cortisol) decrease, and allow a more harmonious flow of reproductive hormones, as well as creating a cascade of positive changes in the physiological body.  This all works toward treating infertility!

The methods to achieve these changes are active meditation work, breath work,  as well as Reiki healing (opening and clearing of energy centers in the body). These methods cause the interference of the body’s stress responses including the interference of the brain’s release of stress hormones.

Research has shown that the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, etc. from the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, can actually inhibit the release of our reproductive hormones!  Additionally, other physiological symptoms of stress hormones cause constriction of blood vessels and put the body in a hypervigilant state –NOT conducive to fertility. You may not even be aware of these symptoms, but the constant day-in and day-out stress of infertility often causes consistent overflow of these stress hormones, therefore impacting your fertility.

 

A powerful way to increase the energy of Mind Body work is by working in a group.

The Fertility Meditation and Reiki sessions have been a wonderful example of increased healing energy flow. We proceed through guided breath work, guided meditation, and guided Reiki healing, joining our energy to bring about physical, emotional, and spiritual changes.  You don’t have to have had experience in meditation or Reiki – anyone can do it!  The Mind Body group is a place where you can relax, a place where you are free to express whatever it is you are feeling … a sacred circle of connection and support. I am often told by group members that the sharing of information has been enormously helpful to them.

Reiki is a Japanese method of stress reduction, relaxation, and healing. “Ki” means life force energy, and “Rei” means universal/spiritual. We are alive because of life force energy flowing through us. We all feel energy – or the lack thereof – without having to see it or touch it. So, we know it exists.

Life force energy flows through pathways in the body which are energy centers – also known as chakras. The chakras will affect, and are affected by emotions. When certain energy centers have low energy or blocked energy, we may become sick or “dis-eased” in certain areas. The practice of Reiki heals by guiding Ki – life force energy – throughout the energy centers in the body. By guiding energy to flow freely, we clear and open the energy centers, healing both the physical and emotional “dis-ease.”

The first time we offered our free Reiki series last summer, the response to this holistic and healing therapy was overwhelmingly positive. If you missed the last series, or can’t make the October 2017 series, we will have upcoming series scheduled throughout the year.

Infertility, and life in general, is stressful. Why not let us help you reduce that stress and regain some control? If you are experiencing fertility issues, you are encouraged to attend these sessions to fully do all that you can to treat infertility and provide coping and healing skills you will then have for life! Register for free now.

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Donor Egg and LGBT Family-Building

By Tracey Minella

September 26th, 2017 at 8:25 am

Most LGBT couples may have at one point or another considered adoption as the way to build a family. That’s because adoption was the only option before the advent of assisted reproductive technology like in vitro fertilization “IVF” and other medical advances. And truth be told, it wasn’t (and still isn’t) the best option for many LGBT couples.

There are usually obstacles, delays, and significant costs to adopting a baby—especially for homosexual couples. In the past (and in some places today), LGBT couples seeking to adopt newborns often had to consider taking children who were older, minorities, and/or had special needs or medical challenges to avoid endlessly waiting for a baby. Even foster parenting doesn’t guarantee you’ll eventually get to adopt that child you’ve grown to love.

But as noble and fulfilling as adoption can be as a family-building choice, LGBT wannabe parents have more choices today, too. The many medical options to LGBT family-building have been extensively covered in this blog.

Donor egg has revolutionized family-building for both the heterosexual and homosexual communities.

As we all know from biology class, it takes an egg and sperm to make a baby. So, what is an LGBT couple or individual to do when they are missing one half of the equation? They can borrow from their neighbor. (But wait, isn’t that math class terminology?) Actually, the phrase fits well. They need to get the missing piece from someone else who donates it.

Gay men need an egg donor to provide eggs for them to fertilize with their sperm (and they need a gestational carrier, too). Lesbians need a sperm donor for sure, but may also need an egg donor if they do not have or don’t want to use quality eggs of their own. So, egg donation is the cornerstone technology for much of LGBT family-building.

The Long Island IVF Donor Egg program and our LGBT services has been helping LGBT couples start and grow their families for decades.

There are many advantages to choosing donor egg over traditional adoption, including savings in time and money. For gay men, it enables them to have a biological connection to their children, which some men prefer over adopting. For a lesbian woman who needs it, donor egg provides healthy, young eggs so she can conceive, carry the pregnancy and be in control of her developing baby’s health, experience childbirth, and be recognized as the legal birth mother—none of which is the case in adoption.

And since egg donation generally yields multiple eggs, you may be able to repeat the process–potentially experiencing additional pregnancies over time—all from a single donor egg cycle.

Please contact Long Island IVF’s Donor Program Coordinator, Vicky Loveland RN, if you are interested in egg donation at victorial@longislandivf.com .

If you would like to know more about LGBT family- building options, please come to Long Island IVF’s free seminar “Building Families in the LGBT Community” on October 26, 2017. It’s held in conjunction with our partner, the LGBT Network, at its Bay Shore Center at 34 Park Avenue, Bay Shore, New York. Register here to reserve your spot.

 

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Would you consider egg donation to build your family?

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September is Back-to-Baby-Making Time

By Tracey Minella

September 1st, 2017 at 9:34 am

 

image: designerpics.com Jeshu John


What’s better than spending the summer on Long Island?

Beaches less than a 15-minute ride in any direction. Great food, drinks, entertainment, and everyone kicking back and relaxing.

It’s no wonder many of those struggling with infertility decided to take the summer off from treatment and just relax. Not “relax, it’ll happen”. But relax as in filling your life with fun distractions that prevent you from obsessing about infertility 24/7. A mix of laid back and wild adventures. Soaking in the rays and Vitamin D. You know, just chillin’.

Basically, just doing what you’ve always loved—with those you loved to laugh with– before infertility messed it all up.

If you did this and conceived, that’s the best news ever. But if you’re still tossing negative pee sticks into the final summer bonfire, maybe it’s time to get back in the stirrups. If you don’t have a treatment plan already waiting, make that doctor’s appointment to decide the next step. If you know what the next step must be and you’re ready, then take it.

Back-to-school shopping ads can feel like a pencil through the heart when you’re infertile. But September is about more than back-to-school for kids you don’t have yet. It’s like a second New Year’s for everyone—a time to start anew. A time to make new plans or re-commit to old resolutions. A time to try again at parenthood, if that’s possible.

We’re here to help everyone–whether you are a patient of ours yet or not. To that end, we offer a steady stream of free seminars and events open to the public that give people a chance to meet our doctors and staff outside of an exam room for the first time—without the paper gown. And for those who are already patients, it’s bonus benefits and extra time with us in a more relaxed setting (again, no gown…)

Check out all the free events coming up this fall that will appeal to many different parents-in-waiting still on their journeys and come down with your partner or another friend. Or come alone. We have a donor egg seminar on Sept 12th, a series of Monday night Reiki and Guided Meditation sessions in October, and a seminar on Building families in the LGBT Community on October 26th—and we are constantly adding more so follow us on our blog or on social media.

There’s already a chill in the Long Island air. So, let’s not look back. The beauty of autumn is upon us and a fresh start is waiting. It’s back to baby-making.

Hope to see you soon.

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Did you take the summer off from treatment or power on through it?

 

 

 

 

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Long Island IVF New Beginnings with Donor Egg Seminar

By Tracey Minella

September 1st, 2017 at 7:37 am

Do you think—or know—that you will need an egg donor in order to build your family? Does the idea of using a donor egg to create your family overwhelm or worry you? Well, you can relax.

All of your questions area about to be answered.

On Tuesday, September 12, 2017, at 7:00 pm, Long Island IVF will host a free event, “New Beginnings Through Donor Egg”, that could potentially change the course of your family-building journey. Our caring doctors and staff…and one of our donor recipient moms… will go over everything you could ever need to know about egg donation.

Doesn’t the idea of hearing the personal story of a woman who was once in your shoes sound wonderful? Someone who once had doubts and questions and, like many who ultimately choose donor egg, suffered losses and feared she might not ever have the family she envisioned. Yet she sought out the information and took a chance. And now she’s a mom.

There are many reasons women ultimately choose to use donor eggs to build their families. Women whose eggs have been compromised by advanced age, cancer treatment, poor general quality, or other factors, have many ways to build a family through the donor egg programs at Long Island IVF. For many of these women, a healthy egg is their only obstacle to pregnancy. Gay men wanting biological children also need donor eggs.

True, conceiving with donor eggs is rarely the first choice, but after weighing many personal physical, emotional, psychological, and financial considerations, many people come to find it is an acceptable alternative path to parenthood. And decades of happy moms agree that using donor eggs was the best decision they ever made—and many wish they did it sooner.

Maybe you’re not yet ready to act on all the information you’ll receive. No problem. We’re just here to offer information and emotional support. So why not come over and just listen to our team discuss the many different egg and embryo donation options?

Victoria Loveland, RN & Donor Egg Nursing Coordinator, Aviva Zigelman, LCSW & Donor Egg Program Director, and Long Island IVF partner and reproductive endocrinologist Steven Brenner, MD will all be there to answer your questions. You can even speak to them privately if you’re more comfortable.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised when we tell you about how stream-lined our programs can be and how competitive the success rates can be, too.

Long Island IVF offers several different egg donation options, including:

  • Sole Recipient Fresh Egg Donation,
  • Shared Recipient Fresh Egg Donation, and
  • Frozen Egg Donation cycles.

 

Each option offers its own unique benefits, costs, and other considerations. We have young, healthy, pre-screened, anonymous egg donors representing multiple ethnicities ready to help build your family.  Or you can choose to use a known donor.

Register here now for this free event. Walk-ins are always welcome, too. Bring a friend or partner. Take that first step, even if you’re hesitant. We look forward to seeing you and answering your questions about the exciting option of egg donation.

Location: Long Island IVF 8 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 101, Melville, NY

Date: Tuesday September 12, 2017

Time: 7:00 pm- 9:30 pm

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Will you be there? If you’d like to attend but can’t, please call anyway so we can make other arrangements to help you.

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“Unsung hero to LGBT community” Dr. Howard W. Jones Jr., the Father of Fertility

By David Kreiner, MD

August 23rd, 2017 at 11:04 am

 

Dr.David Kreiner with Drs. Georgeanna Jones and Howard W. Jones, Jr.


You may already know that Dr. Howard W. Jones, Jr. was the doctor responsible for the birth of America’s first in vitro fertilization “IVF” baby in 1981. IVF and its related technology is the therapy used most often in LGBT family-building.

But you probably didn’t know that the “Father of Fertility” also did ground-breaking work in another medical area that would impact the lives of those in the LGBT community? Work that might raise some eyebrows today, but was positively unfathomable in the 1960s. Let me tell you more about my fascinating mentor.

I first met Howard W. Jones Jr, when I was 29 years old while still an obstetrics and gynecology resident in 1984.  It is now two years since his passing at the age of 104 and his legacy lives on growing greater with each passing year.

He interviewed me back then for a fellowship position in Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility and IVF at the Jones Institute in Norfolk, Va., the first successful IVF center in the Western Hemisphere.  I was in awe of this 74-year-old statesman of the Infertility world.  He was after all famous in the field even before America’s first IVF baby, Elizabeth Carr, was delivered on Dec. 28, 1981 — that first IVF success that Howard W. Jones Jr. and his wife Georgeanna were responsible for in the United States.

I have aspired to live my life and career as the mentor and man I knew as “Dr. Howard” had taught me.  As such, I have been active in the fertility world of the LGBT community, building your families for decades. In addition, my “LGBT Family Building New York” Facebook page is an endeavor I have undertaken to increase awareness. I also enjoy the partnership between Long Island IVF and the LGBT Network on Long Island which serves to improve access to and increase awareness of quality family-building treatment options for the LGBT community.

Dr. Howard was the ultimate medical scientist who did not have a social agenda or prejudice… only an inclination to help all those whom he was capable of helping and if there was not an established way to do so, he worked tirelessly to pave the way.

In the 1960′s– before the general public was aware of what transgender was– Dr. Howard opened the first gender reassignment surgery clinic in the U.S.  For him, this was a way he could utilize his skills learned from performing work on children with ambiguous genitalia to helping those whose gender identities differed from their appearances.

When Dr. Howard established the first successful IVF program west of the Atlantic he did not limit the technology to the married heterosexual couple.  It was his vision that if an individual or couple was in need and desired to start a family that he could offer the latest advances in medicine to assist them.

Remarkably, Dr. Howard was 70 years old when he succeeded with America’s first IVF success.  Rather than accept the retirement his former employer, Johns Hopkins University, had imposed on him due to age, Dr. Howard embarked on arguably the most significant project of his life…IVF.

As I just begin to enter the twilight years of my professional career I look at the accomplishments of my mentor and realize that there is still much good to accomplish.  For me, among other things that means continuing my commitment to making available family building to those in the LGBT community and in so doing perpetuating the legacy of groundbreaking reproductive assistance that was started by the “Father of Fertility”, Dr. Howard W. Jones. Jr.

I encourage all members of the LGBT community who long for a family of their own to meet me and some of the medical staff of Long Island IVF and reproductive attorney, Amy Demma, at our upcoming free event “Building Families in the LGBT Community”, held in conjunction with the LGBT Network at the Center at Bay Shore at 34 Park Avenue, Bay Shore, NY 11706 on October 26, 2017. Register here now.

 

 

 

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The Egg Donor and LGBT Family-Building

By Tracey Minella

July 20th, 2017 at 12:07 pm


Despite making decades of progress, obstacles, frustrations, and inequities are still part of daily life for the LGBT community. And for same-sex couples who want to build a family, having to seek medical attention to do so is an unwelcome but necessary reality. It’s particularly frustrating when simple biological necessity–rather than an infertility diagnosis–lands the couple in the fertility doctor’s office.

Depending on the particular couple’s situation, the “missing piece” they seek could be anything from the relatively inexpensive and easy intrauterine insemination (“IUI”) with donor sperm to the more involved and costly in vitro fertilization (“IVF”) using an egg donor and sometimes a gestational carrier. Very often, egg donation is needed in LGBT family-building.

What is egg donation?

In egg donation, a healthy young woman (the egg donor) agrees to undergo what is essentially an IVF procedure that ends at the egg retrieval stage when her eggs are turned over to a person/couple (the egg recipient/s) who uses them to create their family. The egg donor undergoes hormonal injection treatments over a couple of weeks designed to make her ovaries produce multiple mature eggs, rather than the single egg generally produced each monthly cycle.

As in IVF, the egg donor’s mature eggs will be retrieved, but instead of keeping the eggs for her own use, she donates them to another person/couple. Her role is done upon retrieval of the eggs. The donated eggs are then fertilized with the sperm of a male partner or a sperm donor and the resulting embryos are transferred to the uterus of the female partner or gestational carrier.

When is an egg donor needed?

The simple answer is: Anytime a single person or couple–heterosexual or homosexual–needs an egg to create a baby. That’s either because the woman trying to become pregnant can’t or doesn’t want to use her own eggs or because the single person or couple seeking parenthood is male. Gay men, lesbians with egg-related challenges, and some transgender people will need an egg donor.

How does it work for LGBT family-building?

A gay man or couple could have all the love in the world to give a child, but still needs an egg from a woman in order to make a baby. And a uterus, too. The embryo created from the egg donor’s egg and the sperm of the gay man/men or sperm donor needs to be transferred into the uterus of yet another woman –a gestational carrier – – who will carry the pregnancy to term. The gestational carrier, who has no biological tie to the baby, turns it over to the proud daddy or daddies at the time of birth.

Lesbian couples (or single women) using a sperm donor may be able to conceive with an IUI or through IVF using their own eggs. But sometimes, they may need an egg donor if there is an issue with egg-quality, genetic, or other concerns. (If there are uterine issues, a gestational carrier may also be needed to carry the baby.)

In certain situations, transgender people will need an egg donor. It is important to note that transgender people who transition from female-to-male can have their own eggs retrieved and frozen for future use (and male-to-female transgender people can their freeze sperm for future use) — if done prior to taking any medical or surgical steps on the transgender transition or sexual reassignment journey. Be sure to see a reproductive endocrinologist to discuss these options before it’s too late.

If you would like more information on LGBT parenting options  or would like to schedule an initial consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist, the doctors and staff at Long Island IVF have been helping build LGBT families for decades and would be happy to help you. With several offices throughout Long Island and one in Brooklyn, we’re conveniently located near you.

As a partner of the LGBT Network on Long Island, Long Island IVF is committed to continuing to build families for the LGBT community through cutting-edge medical technology, complementary holistic therapies, and sensitivity to all patients’ individual needs.

Long Island IVF, along with the LGBT Network, offers free LGBT family building seminars every June and periodically throughout the year.

Register here for our next free “Building Families in the LGBT Community” event, which will be held on October 26, 2017 at the LGBT Network at 34 Park Avenue, Bay Shore, NY. Follow our blog, Twitter, and Facebook for more information.

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Long Island IVF Seminar on Family-Building for the LGBT Community

By Tracey Minella

June 27th, 2017 at 11:36 am

Long Island IVF has been celebrating LGBT Pride all month long beginning with again sponsoring LI Pridefest. We’ve helped the LGBT community become parents for decades. So, what better way to close out Pride month than with an info-packed evening of everything you ever wanted to know about LGBT family-building options. If you’re thinking about having a baby and want to know all the ways we can help you pursue that dream, come down and meet us!

We’ve partnered up with the LGBT Network to bring you a quality LGBT family-building seminar on Thursday, June 29, 2017 from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Long Island IVF Melville office located at 8 Corporate Center Drive, Melville, New York.

In about two hours, the speakers at our seminar will answer everything you ever wanted to know about today’s many LGBT Family-Building options. One of our reproductive endocrinologists, Dr. Steven Brenner, along with other key Long Island IVF team members will introduce you to the fascinating world of assisted reproductive technology and specifically how it’s used to help the LGBT community become parents. In addition, Melissa Brisman, owner and founder of Reproductive Possibilities http://www.reproductivepossibilities.com/ will be there.

LGBT family-building is different in many ways from so-called “traditional” family-building. As a practice made up of both LGBT and non-LGBT employees, we truly understand the nuances that make your parenthood quest unique to you, whether you are gay, lesbian, transsexual, bi-sexual, or queer. Believing that everyone has the right to become a parent, LIIVF is committed to using the best available medical technologies to help you overcome or circumvent biological obstacles to parenthood.

Whether we met at LI Pridefest this month and you’d like to learn more about our LGBT Family Building program at Long Island IVF, or this is the first time you’ll be meeting us, we hope you’ll join us and the LGBT Network at our Melville office to learn about the many ways we can help you achieve your dream of parenthood.

For more information and to register for this free event, please click here.

Need to reach someone? You can email lmontello@liivf.com.

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Will you be attending the “Building Families in the LGBT Community” seminar? Do you have any specific questions or particular topics you want to see covered?

 

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Important Infertility Insurance Coverage Issues for the LGBT Community in New York

By Tracey Minella

June 22nd, 2017 at 8:31 am

From Stonewall to date, the LGBT community has always had to fight for rights equal to those of the heterosexual community, often in an atmosphere of “us against them”. Persistence has always paid off…eventually. As we’ve seen from winning battles on openly serving in the military with the repeal of “Don’t ask. Don’t tell” and the legalization of same-sex marriage (#LoveWins), we can move mountains as a community united.

 

The latest major gay rights fight involves insurance coverage for infertility treatment in New York.

 

The subject of mandated infertility insurance coverage in New York State has been in the news lately, but before addressing an important pending bill that could positively impact the infertility insurance rights of all New Yorkers– heterosexual and non-heterosexual– we must examine and understand the existing obstacles to LGBT infertility treatment coverage.

 

Currently, New York State has a mandate which requires coverage for infertility treatments. It’s one of only 15 states to do so, which sounds promising, but it’s not. With so many existing definitions, restrictions, qualifications, and loopholes, the mandate in its current form does very little to benefit New York’s infertile heterosexual couples– and does even less for non-heterosexual couples or single women who need advanced reproductive technologies in order to start their families.

 

Some of the major problems with the current New York State infertility coverage mandate include:

 

  • It does not cover in vitro fertilization (“IVF”), but only applies to intrauterine inseminations (“IUIs) and other low-level/less successful infertility treatments, which are also riskier in terms of causing a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc.);
  • Small group employers can opt out of having to provide this coverage;
  • Insurance carriers may impose certain restrictions and rules that impact the employees’ ability to access the benefits.

 

Some insurance carriers that do offer IVF require both heterosexual and non-heterosexual couples to undergo 6-12 unsuccessful IUI cycles before moving on to IVF treatment (6 IUIs if the woman is over 35, or 12 IUIs if under 35, though some require less).

 

In addition to the above multiple-failed-IUIs prerequisite for IVF coverage, the employee must satisfy the insurance carrier’s definition of “infertility”. “Insurance companies define ‘infertility’ as the inability to conceive after one year of frequent, unprotected heterosexual intercourse, or six months if patient is over the age of 35″.

 

Applying this definition to heterosexual couples merely costs them 6-12 months of time before moving onto IVF treatment—provided they can somehow prove they’re doing it often enough and without protection. And while up to a year of time wasted really is a big deal to all infertile folks, the impact on non-heterosexuals and single women is far worse.

 

When applying this definition to a same-sex couple or a single woman, they not only lose valuable time, but they also lose money that a heterosexual couple would not. Because for same-sex couples or single women to meet the current definition of “infertility”, they would have to undergo six or 12 months of IUI with donor sperm treatments — in many cases, at their own expense –just to prove their infertility so that they could qualify for covered infertility treatments.

 

This issue was thrust into public view when two lesbian couples in New Jersey filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the language of the New Jersey insurance mandate “discriminates based on sex and sexual orientation”.

 

There is also disparity among insurance companies with respect to requiring authorizations for IUIs, requiring IUIs with donor sperm prior to approving infertility treatment, and coverage for the cost of donor sperm or thawing the sperm. In addition, companies offer different levels of coverage, which may be dependent upon copayments, deductibles and other restrictions on certain services like embryo cryopreservation, embryo storage, Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis or Pre-implantation Genetic Screening (“PGD” or “PGS”) of embryos, and more. To further complicate matters, even within the same insurance company, there are different individual plans that are chosen by the employer which provide different benefits coverage and different qualifications or benefits structure.

 

That’s why Long Island IVF assigns each patient a personal financial counselor to help guide them through the complicated insurance process to maximize any benefits to which they may be entitled.

 

Despite the obstacles that currently exist, there is good news to report and even more promising change on the horizon.

 

As a result of New York Governor Cuomo’s mandate to New York State insurance companies, they may no longer exclude same-sex prospective parents or single prospective parents from infertility coverage. While this is a victory, the sticking point for true reform and open access to appropriate infertility coverage for both heterosexual and non-heterosexual patients requires a redefinition of “infertility” and direct access to IVF.

 

There have already been noticeable changes in policies and the provision of coverage for IUIs with donor sperm in same-sex couples, presumably collectively-driven by Gov. Cuomo’s mandate, along with the New Jersey lawsuit, and forward-thinking, large-scale employers like Facebook and Google now offering high-end infertility insurance coverage for egg-freezing services. But the bottom line is that until a patient meets the “infertility” definition, they still have to self-pay.

 

That’s why we need the definition of ‘infertility’ to change. And we need access to IVF, which is the more successful treatment in terms of a singleton birth outcome.

 

And it is within our grasp right now.

 

As this article is being written, a bill that would revolutionize the infertility insurance law in New York for the benefit of heterosexuals, same-sex couples, and single women is awaiting consideration by the Senate after having passed in the Assembly this week.

 

The Senate Bill S.3148A known as the “Fair Access to Fertility Treatment Act”, or (“FAFTA”), if enacted, would not only mandate coverage for IVF treatment, but it would change the application of the definition of “infertility” to:

 

“a disease or condition characterized by the incapacity to impregnate another person or to conceive, as diagnosed or determined (I) by a physician licensed to practice medicine in this state, or (II) by the failure to establish a clinical pregnancy after 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse in the case of a female 35 years of age or older.”

 

According to Long Island IVF co-founder and reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Daniel Kenigsberg, who has been advocating for the passage of the FAFTA bill, “the current mandate’s specific exclusion of coverage for IVF has resulted in much emotional and financial cost spent on inferior or inappropriate treatments which ARE covered by the mandate when, for over 50% of infertile couples, IVF was the best or only treatment.” He further notes that “IVF is far safer in terms of reducing multiple pregnancy risk than less successful and often inferior treatments like ovulation induction and intrauterine insemination (IUI). There has been waste and needless sacrifice for insured couples denied IVF.”

 

It is time for both the heterosexual and the LGBT communities to get active and push our respective representatives to pass this legislation. You can find your local senator here or can access their phone number here. Armed with Senate Bill number S. 3148A, a simple phone call expressing your support of the bill may make all the difference. It takes less than one minute to help support this latest gay rights fight for fair access to appropriate infertility treatment and insurance coverage. Do it now.

 

There has never been a better time for non-heterosexuals to fulfill their dream of parenthood. If you would like more information on the many available LGBT family-building options, we encourage you to join Long Island IVF and our partner, The LGBT Network, on June 29, 2017 for a special free seminar entitled “Building Families in the LGBT Community”. Pre-register here.

 

This progressive legislation not only opens the door to IVF access for all, but it changes the definition of infertility to one that encompasses everyone, regardless of sex or sexual orientation. Instead of “us against them” it’s “one for all”. Its passage would put everybody suffering from the disease of infertility one giant step closer to our common dream of parenthood– and maybe, just maybe, a step closer to us all being one united community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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