UPDATE: Publix, Hobby Lobby, and You

This afternoon it was reported that Publix has reversed its policy on covering PrEP through its employee healthcare plan. The decision came less than twenty-four hours after a meeting with Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, the state’s first openly gay Latino legislator.

To my eyes, what this says is that solidarity still has measurable power. Outrage invokes response, response invokes action. This was no complicated sell, and it is worth mentioning that Publix already covers birth control. The argument for an employee’s right to privacy – in other words, not having to explain to their employer the reason they may need PrEP – seems to have won the day, as did the organized response of queer and public health advocates across the country. When the facts were placed before them, I have to imagine there was a clear imperative to cover Truvada, else they endanger their employees and risk a potential boycott. That is the message: there is a consequence to not providing these medications.

So what comes next? Not unlike when I wrote last August of the twenty-four-hour turnaround on a similar United Healthcare policy, we must use this same organized effort not just for the times access to PrEP is obstructed, but when access to birth control and abortions are as well. Seeing this as a network of related issues, instead of as separated categories of queer health and women’s health, helps us protect each other and get the access to the types of healthcare we all individually need. Any one area of reproductive health tangentially affects another. The sooner we understand that, the sooner we’re angry about it, the better off we’ll all be.

Ian Stearns is a Virginian by birth and a New Yorker by choice. He is an advocate, contributor, and erstwhile secondary lead of Victorian comedies. He prefers not to discuss polarizing issues like religion or who is the definitive Mama Rose in polite company. He believes women's rights and reproductive justice are non-negotiable and thinks you should, too.

Ian is a proud member of the Board of Directors of A is For.

NewsIan Stearns