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 is going to enlarge its medical insurance protection to incorporate HIV prevention medicine for workers after a public backlash remaining week. 

Publix Super Markets Inc. tweeted the announcement early Tuesday. 

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

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

Smith, who’s brazenly homosexual, mentioned corporate officers showed they have been “absolutely denying” insurance policy for PrEP, partially as a result of medicine used “to treat a medical condition that someone might get in the future” used to be now not coated of their present 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 website online 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 health center in Atlanta, instructed 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 by day use of PrEP can scale back the danger of contracting HIV from intercourse through greater than 90 p.c. The out-of-pocket price of the drug with out insurance coverage can reportedly be as prime as $13,000 in step with yr.  

Though it used to be now not disclosed whether or not the Publix worker known as LGBTQ, some shops 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 a couple of instance. The corporate is among 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 instrument for LGBTQ place of work equality. 

The corporate’s resolution to opposite route on PrEP used to be praised through a lot of LGBTQ rights organizations, together with the Human Rights Campaign, which referred to as it “a positive step forward,” in particular 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 systems, analysis and coaching, mentioned in an e-mail remark. “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 team Equality Florida echoed the ones sentiments, praising Publix for “responding to the voices from the community and making this critical change in policy” in a Facebook submit Tuesday.

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