Government, Civil Groups Fight
Insurance Companies Over AIDS
On opposite coasts, the insurance industry haB suffered a legal setback—or has
been sued—over their efforts to restrict
coverage from AIDS victims and "potential" victims.
The District of Columbia City Council
this past week tentatively gave first
approval to a bill that would prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage
to someone who has tested positive for
exposure to the AIDS virus.
That bill pitted gay rights groups
against the insurance industry, which
waged a $200,000 lobbying campaign
against the measure with advertisements
in the newspapers, television and radio
Insurance industry officials called the
vote "a dangerous precedent" and predicted premium rate increases of up to
$2.50 per $1,000 of coverage for all insurance policyholders in the city.
But the _3-n.em.ber council endorsed the
bill Tuesday on a unanimous voice vote
and criticized the insurance industry's
"The people didn't buy a dime of that
garbage you put on television." said Councilman Frank Smith, referring to the ads.
"Calls to my office ran 80 percent in favor
of the bill."
The bill's sponsor, Councilman John
Ray, said if the measure was rejected the
city would bear the financial burden of
AIDS sufferers who would not be able to
get insurance. He said the victims would
seek hospitalization in city facilities.
The protections in the bill, however, do
not extend to people who already contracted acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
"The questions asked
are so broad that
virtually no applicant
insurance without lying'
For five years after the bill becomes law,
insurance companies could not deny
health or life insurance if a person has
tested positive for exposure to the disease.
At the end of five years, an insurance
firm could petition the city to allow higher
rates for a person who has tested positive.
Under the bill, an insurer also could not
use age, marital status or sexual orientation for the purpose of predicting whether
an individual may develop AIDS in the
It is similar to laws in California and
Wisconsin but is more comprehensive.
"It's unfair to other applicants," said
Russell Iuculano, legislative director of
the American Council of Life Insurance.
"This bill is the most sweeping of its kind
in the country. We're very concerned
because it says that for one disease only
we cannot base the price on risk."
The council debated for more than an
hour over the penalties in the bill and
decided to wait until the final vote in two
weeks before making any changes.
As approved, a violation would carry a
fine of between $1000 and $10,000 foreach
day a firm is in violation of the law.
And on May 5, two civil groups in Cali-
Sunday, May 18: Quest For Mr. Flight
6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
Tuesday May 20: Movie
Sweet Dreams & Patsy Cline Look-A-Like Contest
Judging by Patsy Cline
Memorial Day Weekend: Fri May 23
Mon May 26
Full Moon Madness
7:00 a.m.—D.J. & Drink Specials
Afternoon—Three P's Party
+.0B0 Lary TnomPson
HOME OF EAGLE LEATHER
fornia filed the nation's first major lawsuit challenging the AIDS-related
practices of a particular health insurance
National Gay Rights Advocates and the
Employment Law Center ofthe Legal Aid
Society of San Fransisco have charged the
Great Republic Insurance Company with
publishing underwriting guidelines which
specifically target unmarried males inste-
reotypically gay occupations for discrimination.
"Great Republic's crude attempt to
screen out gay men is completely inconsistent with accepted underwriting practices," stated Benjamin Schatz, director of
NGRA's civil rights project.
The guidelines at issue, distributed in
December 1985, require insurance agents
to give supplemental questionnaires to
unmarried men in "occupations that do
not require physical exertion." Examples
given included restaurant employees,
antique dealers, interior decorators, florists and those in the jewelry or fashion
The questions asked are so broad that
virtually no applicant can obtain the insurance without lying, said an NGRA official.
The suit, filed in a San Fransisco court,
demands $100,000 in damages for pain
and suffering, and $10 million in punitive
damages, and also demands Great America be permanently enjoined from discriminating against applicants on the basis of
gender, marital status or sexual oreinta-
Some of the information in this article
came news sources of the Houston Chronicle.
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Memorial Day, Monday
75<t Happy Hour, $1 Regular
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HAPPY HOUR 4-7pm
Open Tues-Thurs. 4pm-2am,
MAY 16. 1986/MONTROSE VOICE 7
From a press release
On January 22, representatives of the
Montrose Counseling Center, the AIDS
Foundation of Houston, the Montrose
Clinic and the Gay/Lesbian Switchboard
of Houston met to approve the 1985 statement of account for FOCUSS.
The FOCUSS members agreed to divide
donations received for 1986 in the following percentages:
Montrose Counseling Center 38%,
AIDS Foundation 35.5%,
Montrose Clinic 16.5%,
Gay/Lesbian Switchboard 10%.
These percentages are based on actual
total budget expenditures of all the organizations for 1985 which totalled $453,100. A
minimum percentage of 10% for any
member was agreed.
The 1986 officers are James R. Kuhn,
president, and Joe Tumlinson, secretary-
The negotiated agreement was finally
ratified by each board of directors in April
1986. The resolutions were presented to
the First National Bank of West University on May 2. 1986.
Contributions may be sent to FOCUSS,
c/o Montrose Counseling Center, Suite
203, 900 Lovett Blvd., Houston, TX 77006.
MasterCard and Visa donations are
□ Statement of Account
F.O.C.U.S.S., Aug. 5-Dec. 31,1985
Deposits (including $1000.00 received
12/20/85 but not deposited until 1/15/86):
Paid Out ($8198.33 to KS/AIDS Foundation, $1164.59 to Montrose Clinic),
$1379.00 to Montrose Counseling Center,
$977.04 to Gay Switchboard of Houston):
TO BE PAID ($1639.76 to KS/AIDS
Foundation, $232.96 to Montrose Clinic,
$279.45 to Montrose Counseling Center,
$195.63 to Gay Switchboard of Houston):
The Montrose Clinic, 803 Hawthorne, has
announced that it is now testing for the
HTLV-III/LAV-AIDS antibodies only on
An official ofthe clinic said the tests will
continue to be provided free of charge to
patients and results of an individual's test
will be given in person at the clinic one
week later, the same hours.
They emphasized that results would not
be given over the phone.
The official also said that the tests are
given confidentially and no names are
taken. The official said "anonymity is
Development of antibodies may take up
to six months after exposure to the HTLV-
III virus. Center for Disease Control has
recommended that if someone were tested
less than six months from the time of suspected exposure or the person believes that
they may have been exposed since being
tested, they should consider being
Said the clinic official, "This test was
designed to screen donor blood for the
presence of antibody to the AIDS virus ...
This test is not designed to be diagnostic
for AIDS or AIDS Related Complex
Appointments are recommended for
testing by calling the Montrose Clinic at
528-5535 between the hours of 9:00 a.m.
and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.