After Backlash, Publix Says It Will Cover HIV Prevention Drug For Staff

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A big U.S. grocery store chain says it’ll amplify its medical insurance protection to incorporate HIV prevention drugs for workers after a public backlash closing week. 

Publix Super Markets Inc. tweeted the announcement early Tuesday. 

The Lakeland, Florida-based corporate, which operates 1,169 retail outlets in seven Southern states, introduced plans for the coverage exchange in the future after assembly with state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D).

In a long publish to his Facebook and Twitter accounts, Smith mentioned he met with Publix officers Monday to talk about studies that they had been denying insurance policy for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, to their workers.  

Smith, who’s overtly homosexual, mentioned corporate officers showed they had been “absolutely denying” insurance policy for PrEP, partially as a result of drugs used “to treat a medical condition that someone might get in the future” used to be now not coated of their current plan.

Smith mentioned Publix agreed to “actively re-evaluate their decision” on the assembly’s conclusion. 

Smith’s assembly got here days after The Body, a information and useful resource web page devoted to HIV and AIDS problems, revealed a Jan. 29 file claiming Georgia physician had unsuccessfully attempted to acquire PrEP protection for a affected person who works at a Publix grocery store. 

“We’ve started over 400 people on PrEP at our clinic alone, and this is the only person that we weren’t able to get PrEP for,” Dr. David Holland, who’s the director of the Fulton County PrEP hospital in Atlanta, advised The Body. 

The worker’s request, Holland added, used to be rejected two extra occasions.  

“What we found out from the insurance company was that it came, ultimately, from the employer. It wasn’t just an insurance issue; it was [that] the employer did not want it covered in the insurance,” he mentioned. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, day-to-day use of PrEP can cut back the chance of contracting HIV from intercourse through greater than 90 %. The out-of-pocket value of the drug with out insurance coverage can reportedly be as prime as $13,000 consistent with yr.  

Though it used to be now not disclosed whether or not the Publix worker recognized as LGBTQ, some retailers speculated that the corporate used to be discriminating in opposition to homosexual and bisexual males, who stay disproportionately inclined to HIV an infection, through refusing to hide PrEP. 

Publix has been accused of anti-LGBTQ discrimination on multiple instance. The corporate is likely one of the few Fortune 500 firms that didn’t take part within the Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 Corporate Equality Index, which is used as a benchmarking device for LGBTQ place of business equality. 

The corporate’s resolution to opposite route on PrEP used to be praised through various LGBTQ rights organizations, together with the Human Rights Campaign, which referred to as it “a positive step forward,” specifically given the franchise’s location. 

“Publix has locations predominantly in the South, where HIV disproportionately affects the population, making this decision all the more impactful and necessary,” Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC’s senior vp for methods, analysis and coaching, mentioned in an e mail commentary. “We hope this decision by Publix will inspire other large employers to think seriously about ensuring that their health plans address all employees’ needs.”

Local advocacy workforce Equality Florida echoed the ones sentiments, applauding Publix for “responding to the voices from the community and making this critical change in policy” in a Facebook publish Tuesday.

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