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Married Gay NYC Couple Files Suit to Access IVF Coverage

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 3 MIN.

A married gay couple in New York City continue to press their case for health insurance coverage for IVF. After filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission two years ago, the couple brought suit against the city on May 9.

The suit, brought by Corey Briskin and Nicholas Maggipinto, is "a first-of-its-kind class action lawsuit against New York City," NBC News reported, and it "alleg[es] that the city's health insurance plan is discriminatory because it doesn't cover in vitro fertilization, or IVF, for male couples."

The NBC News story explained that the "lawsuit is the latest development in what has become a yearslong effort by the couple to get the city to change its IVF benefits, which the couple argues makes accommodations for heterosexual and lesbian couples, and for single women."

Briskin and Maggipinto had sought to use IVF to produce a fertilized egg that would then be implanted into a surrogate carrier. Their plan was for insurance to cover the cost of IVF, after which they would pay out of pocket for the surrogacy.

But the city countered the EEOC claim, according to lawyer Peter Romer-Friedman, by saying "that it doesn't provide IVF benefits to surrogates and, as a result, it would not provide benefits" to the couple.

Romer-Friedman dismissed that argument, noting that the city's rationale failed to address the complaint since Briskin and Maggipinto were not seeking coverage for a surrogate – only for the IVF procedure.

"They're seeking fertilization of donated eggs with their sperm," Romer-Friedman pointed out, "and those are things that are provided to other people under the plan."

"So, in our view," the lawyer added, "the city offered no legitimate, legal or factual explanation for treating Corey and Nicholas differently than other couples who get IVF benefits."

The news report recalled that Briskin had formerly been employed as an assistant district attorney, which made him eligible for the city's health insurance plan. Briskin left that job, but continues to be covered under the plan through COBRA.

It was the couple's determination to become parents that propelled Briskin into a higher-paying job in the public sector, the account relayed.

"So far," NBC News tallied, Briskin and Maggipinto "have spent about $80,000, and they just received another $9,000 medical bill this week for prescription medications necessary for the IVF process," even as they anticipate laying out "about $100,000 for the IVF costs" – on top of which, "surrogacy can cost an additional $165,000, according to documents filed with the couple's 2022 EEOC complaint."

"The couple's lawsuit argues that the city's exclusion of gay men from being eligible for IVF benefits violates Title VII, the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment and New York state and New York City human rights laws," NBC News detailed.

The suit claims that the city applies its rules for such coverage according to an inequitable definition of "infertility," the account clarified.

"The city defines infertility as the inability to conceive a child through male-female unprotected intercourse in a consecutive 12-month period or through intrauterine insemination, or IUI," NBC News explained. "Under this definition, single women and lesbian couples can qualify as infertile and receive IVF benefits if they undergo IUI and don't become pregnant, according to the complaint."

But that definition shuts same-sex male couples out of IVF coverage, the suit says.

"By defining 'infertility' in this exclusionary manner, single female employees, female employees with male partners, female employees with female partners, and male employees with female partners are always potentially eligible for some IVF benefits under the City's healthcare plan," the suit outlines, "but gay male employees – whether individually or with male partners – are never eligible for any IVF benefits."

NBC News relayed that "a CityHall spokesperson" addressed the issue, stating, "The city has been a leader in offering IVF treatments for any city employee or dependent covered by the city's health plan who has shown proof of infertility, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation."

"The city will review the details of the complaint," the spokesperson added.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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