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Archive for the ‘Family Building for the LGBT Community’ tag

Celebrating Three Decades of LGBT Pride and IVF on Long Island

By Tracey Minella

June 1st, 2018 at 2:11 pm

What better way to kick off the long-awaited Long Island summer than with the spectacular three-day weekend known as Long Island Pridefest? Organized by our partner, The LGBT Network, this year marks the 28th anniversary of the event and the second year it will take place in beautiful Long Beach, New York. As a proud sponsor of Pridefest for many years, Long Island IVF is also celebrating an anniversary this summer – – our 30th year.

As the first successful IVF program on Long Island, Long Island IVF brought Long Island its first IVF baby, its first baby from a cryopreserved embryo, and its first donor egg baby. For decades, Long Island IVF has built families for Long Island’s LGBT community.

Looking back on the history of both Pridefest and IVF technology on Long Island, much has changed over the past three decades. And those changes are overwhelmingly for the better.

When the first IVF baby was born in England in 1978, the world collectively gasped at the idea of creating life outside of the womb in a “test tube”. When America’s first IVF baby was born shortly thereafter in 1981 through the ground-breaking work of Dr. Howard Jones of the Jones Institute in Virginia, the “sci-fi” label still hadn’t worn off the public’s mind.

In 1985, a young doctor accepted a fellowship position at the prestigious Jones Institute in the newly-emerging field of Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility and IVF. In 1988, that young doctor – – Dr. David Kreiner – – co-founded Long Island IVF with Dr. Daniel Kenigsberg. Dr. Kenigsberg– who had trained at the prestigious National Institutes of Health and whose nationally-recognized, award-winning research at the time led the way to modern-day IVF stimulation protocol– left his position as Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at University Hospital at Stony Brook Medical School to partner with Dr. Kreiner.  Together they pioneered IVF right here on Long Island. The two doctors, along with other doctors, nurses, and staff are still together today building families on Long Island for both the heterosexual and LGBT communities.

Pridefest has also grown over its 28-year history. And while this year’s theme is “Brave. Strong. United.”, it’s really the embodiment of those same three attributes in past Pridefest participants that has brought the event to the size, scope and impact it enjoys today. How many people have “come out” in those years? How does the community support members of all ages – – from teens to the elderly through workshops, education, counseling, and programs? How have advocacy efforts over the decades resulted in gains in civil rights, marriage rights, and reproductive rights just to name a few advances? How many community members can now—in addition or as an alternative to adoption– have biologically-linked children due to rapid advancements in assisted reproductive technology?

The many fights for rights over the decades by the pioneers of the gay rights movement have resulted in greater visibility of, gradual de-sensitization to, and increased acceptance of the LGBT lifestyle. Not from all, but from many. From baby steps to big steps, the LGBT community’s “in-your-face” relentless pursuit of equality and acceptance has made a difference. But facing down potential threats to these gains requires continued vigilance and advocacy—as well as joyful noise. So, while she may have started it, today’s Pridefest is not your grandma’s Pridefest.

Last year’s Pridefest and its 30+ events, drew tens of thousands of people and this year’s event promises to be even better. From the Pride Carnival kick-off at 6 PM on Friday June 8 until the Pride Market Fair wraps up on Sunday night, the weekend is jam-packed with something for everyone including but not limited to:

  • A Taste of Long Beach- restaurant and bar specials
  • Pride Shabbat service
  • Junction kick-off party
  • Nature’s Bounty 5K Run
  • Family Fun Run
  • Pride Beach Party and Fashion Show
  • Pride Pet Parade
  • Pride Boat Parade
  • Pride Cabaret Night
  • Pride on the Tide Party
  • Pride Market Fair
  • Pride Mass
  • Pride Parade
  • Concert on the Beach
  • Memorial Paddle Out honoring Pulse Nightclub Massacre victims

 

Pridefest is a time for serious fun. “Fun” as evidenced by the laundry list of incredible activities packed into one long weekend on the beach. “Serious” because there is an important message of pride, inclusion, and unity underlying it all. It’s a Pride party with a purpose.

As a sponsor of Pridefest and as a partner to The LGBT Network year-round, Long Island IVF is committed to providing compassionate and inclusive care. We encourage all members of the LGBT community to come to our free seminar “Building Families in the LGBT Community” being held in conjunction with The LGBT Network on the evening of June 21st at our Melville office. Our doctors, nurses, staff and reproductive law attorney, Amy Demma, will address the many family-building options available to the LGBT community and will be happy to answer any of your questions. All are welcome. Pre-register here.

The Long Island IVF team loves seeing the parents and children of the LGBT families we’ve helped create each year at Pridefest so please stop by and say hello. We also look forward to meeting new friends and prospective parents, so come by our booth to connect with us and grab some freebies. We’ll be there on Sunday! Hope to see you then.

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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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