February 26, 2004
"The science of HIV medicine is clear," said AAHIVM CEO, R. Scott Hitt, M.D. "Treatment of HIV before the immune system is crippled greatly delays or even prevents that person from ever receiving an AIDS diagnosis. The passage of ETHA would not only reduce the death rate for people with HIV cared for under Medicaid, it would also be cost-effective to the Medicaid program by severely limiting the number of unnecessary hospitalizations and other high-cost care."
Currently, Medicaid guidelines are in direct contradiction with the government's own Public Health Service (PHS) guidelines that recommend that HIV-infected individual's access treatment earlier on in the course of their HIV disease.
"Under current Medicaid rules patients can only access effective treatments once they have fallen very ill. Because of the profound damage to their immune systems, such people may never reap the full benefit of therapy for HIV," said AAHIVM Board Chair, Judith Feinberg, M.D., AAHIVM HIV SpecialistTM. "Fortunately, ETHA now gives us the opportunity to apply the scientific advances that have significantly reduced HIV-related mortality and illness to Medicaid policy."
Recent studies have shown that under ETHA, not only would the domestic AIDS death rate be cut by 60 percent, but the rate of new HIV infections would also drop as more individuals who receive treatment for HIV will have the amount of virus in their bodies reduced to the point where transmission rates are very low. Regarding the cost of the bill, Price Waterhouse Coopers released data that the bill would save money over ten years, with 70 percent of savings coming from the Medicaid programs itself.
"The Bush Administration has begun to address the global pandemic," says AAHIVM Public Policy Chair, Howard Grossman, M.D., AAHIVM HIV SpecialistTM. "This bill would allow this Administration to do something to address the domestic epidemic as well."
The Academy's position statement on ETHA is available at its Website at www.aahivm.org.
The American Academy of HIV Medicine is an independent organization of HIV Specialists and others dedicated to promoting excellence in HIV/AIDS care. Through advocacy and education, the Academy is committed to supporting health care providers in HIV medicine and to ensuring better care for those living with AIDS and HIV disease.
As the largest independent organization of HIV frontline providers, our 1,800 members provide direct care to more than 315,000 HIV patients. This is more than two thirds of the patients in active treatment for HIV disease. The Academy has a diverse membership composed of ID, IM, FP and GP specialists as well as NPs and PAs. Member distribution among these provider groups is proportionate to the specialty distribution of frontline providers nationwide. Nearly 50 percent of the Academy's members receive Ryan White CARE Act funding, with 18 percent of the Academy's members practicing in community clinics.