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Vice President Al Gore Endorses Aids Action Medicaid Expansion Initiative

Vice President Makes Medicaid Announcement after Receiving AIDS Action National Leadership Award

April 10, 1997

Contact: José Zuñiga
(202) 986-1300, Ext. 3042

WASHINGTON, DC -- Vice President Al Gore Jr. announced last night that he has asked the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) to find ways in which to implement an AIDS Action initiative which would expand Medicaid and allow more low-income Americans with HIV to access new AIDS drug therapies. Gore made his Medicaid announcement after he and his wife, Tipper, were honored with AIDS Action's National Leadership Award for Public Service.

"[Medicaid expansion] can ease suffering, it can increase hope, and it can get new drug therapies into the hands of people who need them," Gore said to the resounding approval of a sold-out crowd attending AIDS Action's seventh annual National Leadership Awards at The Lansburgh Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Daniel Zingale, AIDS Action's executive director, hailed Gore's Medicaid expansion announcement as the result of an effective partnership between AIDS Action and the Clinton administration. "Beyond historic, Medicaid expansion to people with HIV who are not currently eligible will benefit thousands of people who would otherwise not be touched by the new hope that promising scientific advancements brings."

AIDS Action proposed a Medicaid expansion initiative a month ago to officials from HCFA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), citing current Medicaid eligibility criteria as contradictory to AIDS clinical evidence and care standards which call for early treatment of HIV disease. While over half of all Americans with AIDS now rely on Medicaid for access to health care, many low-income people with HIV are denied that access. People with HIV are ineligible for Medicaid unless they are below certain income levels or the Social Security Administration declares them disabled - which usually follows diagnosis with full-blown AIDS and is the late stage of HIV disease.

"The response from Clinton administration officials was unequivocally supportive," said Christine Lubinski, AIDS Action's deputy executive director for programs. "Obviously, AIDS Action is excited that the administration will seek ways in which to implement this long-overdue measure. AIDS Action is anxious to work with HCFA and the OMB to ensure that no American is denied new hope."

For further information, contact:

José Zuñiga
Director of Communications
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Avenue NW #700
Washington DC 20009
202-986-1300, extension 3053
202-986-1345 (fax)
202-332-9614 (tty)

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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.