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Americans Favor Getting AIDS Drugs to More People in Early Stage of HIV Disease, According to Nationwide Survey

Public Opinion Favors Medicaid as AIDS Care Safety-Net

April 30, 1997

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

WASHINGTON, DC - Almost 70 percent of Americans polled in a nationwide survey overwhelmingly support getting new AIDS drugs into the hands of more low-income people in the early stages of HIV infection through Medicaid. The poll, which was conducted by a leading GOP polling firm, shows that support for AIDS Action's initiative to expand Medicaid eligibility to people with HIV cuts across party lines and political idealogies, with all groups showing equal widespread support. Polls have consistently shown that efforts to cut or cap Medicaid spending would meet with strong opposition from the American public.

"The proposed Medicaid expansion initiative has tapped into the pulse of Americaaround one of the key issues in the fight against AIDS," said Daniel Zingale, AIDS Action's executive director. "We have known for some time that the American public rejects tampering with Medicaid in a way that freezes people with HIV and AIDS out of the health care system --which includes Medicaid per capita cap plans. Now we have discovered that most Americans want to expand Medicaid to ensure that all people with HIV and AIDS can access the new hope that combination therapies with protease inhibitors represents."

The survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted by leading GOP polling firm American Viewpoint for AIDS Action. The survey results will bolster AIDS Action's work with Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) officials who were asked last month by Vice President Gore to find ways in which to implement a Medicaid expansion plan.

AIDS Action originally proposed its Medicaid expansion initiative over two months ago to HCFA and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officials, citing current Medicaid eligibility criteria as contradictory to AIDS clinical evidence and care standards which call for early treatment of HIV disease. While over 53 percent of all Americans with AIDS rely of 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 and the Social Security Administration declares them as disabled which usually follows diagnosis with full-blown AIDS or late-stage HIV infection.

"Beyond historic, Medicaid expansion to low-income 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,"Zingale said.

# # #

AIDS Action is the nation's foremost AIDS advocacy organization, representing Americans affected by HIV/AIDS and over 1,400 community-based organizations that serve them.

American Viewpoint National Monitor
April 1997
[Sample Size: 1,000]

QUESTION AA3 (commissioned by AIDS Action Council)

"Should the Medicaid program cover new AIDS drug therapies for low-income people in the early stages of HIV infection?"

69 percent    YES
20 percent    NO
12 percent    DON'T KNOW

Following is a demographic breakdown of the April 1997 American Viewpoint National Monitor:

***63 percent indicated they do not/have not know/n someone infected with AIDS or the HIV virus, versus 34 percent who do or have.

***Respondents self-identified as leaning toward one of the following party affiliations: 37 percent Independent, 33 percent Democrat, and 26 percent Republican.

***Respondents self-identified under the following political idealogies: 49 percent Moderate, 29 percent Conservative, and 16 percent Liberal.

***Almost half of the respondents -- 49 percent -- are between the ages of 18 and 44.

***Female: 52 percent. Male: 48 percent.

***Respondents self-identified under one of the following ethnic categories: 78 percent white, 10 percent African-American, 4 percent Latino, 1 percent Asian, and 3 percent other [4 percent refused to answer].

Cross-tabs/American Viewpoint comments available upon request.

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.