Will House Republicans' Trump-Inspired AHCA 'Make HIV AIDS Again'?
March 9, 2017
On March 6, House Republicans released the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to show how they propose to fulfill this promise. Major groups such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Association of Retired People (AARP) are not loving it, to say the least.
And the reviews from the HIV community? Well, yeah, also not good.
Hack Job, Says AIDS United
"AIDS United Opposes the American Health Care Act," reads the headline of the press release from the nation's central HIV policy, capacity-building and grant-making group.
"This is the biggest attack to health care system as we know it and the stakes are critical," says the organization's vice president of policy and advocacy Ronald Johnson in the release. "Millions of people gained access to [health] care through the Affordable Care Act, many for first time, and these gains are at risk. This isn't an improvement to the Affordable Care Act, it is a hack job that puts tax cuts for wealthy people above the health needs of people."
The press release explains:
Shutting the Door on HIV Coverage, Says the HIV Medical Association
The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), which represents more than 5,000 health care professionals, expresses deep concern about how the bill would affect the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the country. In its statement, chair Wendy Armstrong, M.D., FIDSA, explains:
HIVMA urges the House committees not only to reconsider the bill's contents but also to consider the "accelerated and non-transparent process with which these proposals have been advanced."
Reducing Care to the Most Vulnerable, Says the American Academy of HIV Medicine
The American Academy of HIV Medicine, a professional organization that supports HIV practitioners in the United States, says that the AHCA would "ultimately reduce access to health care for the most vulnerable populations."
"The population of older HIV patients is growing rapidly in this country and they should be protected from additional costs," emphasizes Margaret Hoffman-Terry, M.D., FACP, AAHIVS, chair of the AAHIVM Board of Directors, in reference to the AHCA proposal allowing insurers to charge significantly higher rates as people age.
In addition, AAHIVM urges the House to keep the ACA provision forbidding insurers to reject people with pre-existing conditions such as HIV:
"For too many years, people living with HIV were denied access to insurance until it was made available through the ACA," says James Friedman, the organization's executive director. "We are pleased to see this benefit retained in the new plan. However, we cannot support a proposal that would reduce overall access to medical care and medical treatment for patients with long-term life-threatening medical conditions."
Trumpcare Could "Make HIV AIDS Again," Says Community Advocate
Community educator and advocate Raul Robles, who leads a Spanish-language HIV long-term survivors' support group in San Diego, started circulating a graphic on Facebook as the AHCA emerged from Congress, reading "Trumpcare: Make HIV AIDS Again."
Robles' slogan reflects the widespread concern in the HIV community that the AHCA could inhibit or roll back progress made in expanding access to HIV care and treatment, leaving people with HIV vulnerable to risk of illness, worsening health, loss of life or an AIDS diagnosis.
"People living with HIV, hepatitis, and other chronic and serious conditions cannot afford to go backwards by eliminating or destabilizing the health care that the ACA provides," insists the AIDS Institute in a letter to members of the House committees considering the bill, in which it urges them to vote "no" on the measure.
"If advanced, the ACA replacement bill stands to threaten our progress in diagnosing and treating patients with HIV and increase healthcare disparities both between states and based on socioeconomic status. These proposals will not only harm individuals with HIV but will compromise our nation's public health by leaving fewer with access to the antiretroviral treatment that keeps patients healthy and reduces their risk of transmitting HIV to near zero," notes HIVMA in its statement.
A Call for Action
"The serious changes contemplated by this Act will directly undermine the goals of providing treatment and care for people living with HIV as well as the goal of ending the epidemic," AIDS United writes in its statement, adding a call to action for advocates to contact the House Ways and Means Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Here's how to do it, says AIDS United:
JD Davids is the managing editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow JD on Twitter: @JDAtTheBody.
This article was provided by TheBody.
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