The New Battle of New Orleans: Insurer Says "Ryan White No Good"
By Aaron Laxton
February 21, 2014
There is a new battle raging in the deep-south that without doubt could have implications for everyone living with HIV/AIDS across the United States. Louisiana has found itself in a battle between those living with HIV/AIDS and insurance providers, namely Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS).
The Affordable Care Act, which was enacted earlier this year, has served to leave patients living with HIV/AIDS in the cold. Transitioning from statewide AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP) and other assistance programs has been anything but seem-less. Blue Cross/Blue Shield Louisiana has arbitrarily decided not to accept third-party payments; this is generally how those living with HIV/AIDS obtain assistance through Ryan White Care Act. According to Robert Darrow who started the online petition, "The state's largest carrier is rejecting checks from a federal program designed to help these patients pay for AIDS drugs and insurance premiums, and has begun notifying customers that their enrollment in its Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act) plans will be discontinued."
As outlined in a Press Release put out by Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana, the insurer states
"Effective March 1, 2014, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana will no longer accept third-party payments for our individual members' premiums. Only the policyholder or an immediate relative (by blood or marriage) or legal guardian of the policyholder (e.g. parent, spouse, sibling) can pay for that policyholder's healthcare premium."
Three of the four health insurers in Louisiana offered through the state-ran Market Place will now essentially deny insurance to people living with HIV who need assistance to be insured.
Why should you be concerned about this if you are not living in Louisiana? The fear among advocates and AIDS advocacy organizations is that the trend that is being tested in Louisiana will set precedence which will become the new standard nationwide. Mark S. King, Kevin Maloney and Dorian Gray Alexander have all taken the fight directly to the insurer via an online media and a petition through Change.org. Additionally advocates in southern-border states are closely monitoring the situation.
Should Blue Cross Blue Shield succeed the future of AIDS assistance programs for medical and prescription coverage could change for those who are the most vulnerable. If you have not done so already be take a moment to sign the online petition and let you voice be heard today.
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My HIV Journey
I am simply a guy who on June 6, 2011, received the news that over 33 million people have received: I am HIV positive. I decided in that split moment to record the journey that I was embarking on so that I might help others as they receive that news.
I am not a doctor and I do not endorse any agenda other than simply living a healthy life. I am an activist and advocate and simply want to make the world a better place. I hold a degree in sociology and psychology. I am a product of the Missouri Foster System and this is one of my main passions, second only to the work I do with HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention.
I embrace a sex-positive model. People are going to have sex; it is a natural part of who we are. However we need to make sure that it is safe. I can be found on weekends throughout St. Louis, Missouri, passing out condoms and safe-sex kits.
I am now an M.S.W. student at Saint Louis University's College of Public Health and Social Justice and the School of Social Work.
Whether in St. Louis, D.C. or around the nation, I always jump at the chance to help change not only policies to better serve those that need help but to also change the landscape of the society that we live in.
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