For more than 30 years, insurance companies have been allowed to deny life and disability income insurance coverage to someone based solely on a positive HIV test. But that standard will be fixed.
On Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 1255, The Equal Insurance HIV Act, which will abolish the practice.
“Governor Newsom’s signing of The Equal Insurance HIV Act means once and for all that HIV status will not be a barrier to protecting yourself and your loved ones through life and disability income insurance,” Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who co-sponsored SB 1255, said in a statement. Equality California also sponsored SB 1255.
Lara made history in 2018 when he became California’s first elected statewide officeholder who publicly identifies as gay.
SB 1255 will overturn a 1989 law. At the time, treatment for someone who tested HIV-positive was extremely limited. Therapies were ineffective, highly expensive, and had severe and painful side effects, causing many people who were HIV-positive to bypass treatment.
The bill reflects the fact that people with HIV can live long, healthy lives thanks to advances in medical treatments.
SB 1255 will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023.
The bill is the third piece of legislation signed by Newsom this session that will help the LGBTQ community.
- SB 132 will allow incarcerated transgender people to be housed in facility where they feel safest, which can include housing consistent with their gender identity, absent specific security or management concerns.
- SB 932 will require California to collect data on COVID-19 and gender identity and sexual orientation related to infection, hospitalization, ICU, recovery, and mortality rates. The bill also will cover gender identity and sexual orientation data collection for all 90 reportable diseases and conditions.
Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) authored SB 1255. Gonzalez was a city councilwoman in Long Beach, representing the 1st District. During that time, Gonzalez had a problematic relationship with the LGBTQ community due to her lack of leadership on HIV and other vital issues.