Action Alert: Demand Congress Use Wasteful Abstinence-Only Dollars for Cost-Saving Medicare Fix!
Senate Wants to Fund Abstinence-Only at the Expense of Poor People With AIDS; Time to Call Your Senator and Demand a Swap!
June 13, 2008
If Congress corrects a Medicare Part D loophole it will cost approximately $20 million a year -- but will save $50 million a year (not to mention the lives they might save or improve). Many people who receive their HIV drugs through the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit reach the dreaded "donut hole" when the cost of their meds exceeds $2,510. They can't receive Medicare Part D benefits until they pay a whopping $4,050 out of pocket, referred to as "true out of pocket costs" or TrOOP.
"ADAP as TrOOP" would allow the joint state-federal AIDS Drugs Assistance Programs (ADAP) to pay the $4,050. Doing so would get people out of the donut hole-and save $50 million for ADAP, since ADAP ends up paying the entire cost of AIDS drugs for everyone trapped in the donut hole. ADAP as TrOOP also guarantees care: Unlike Medicare, ADAP is not an entitlement and funding is always precarious. The House of Representatives understood this common sense measure and put ADAP as TrOOP in their Medicare budget, but it was MIA from the Senate version. In what is actually good news for AIDS advocates, the bill was blocked by Republicans for unrelated reasons. So when the bill is sent back to the drawing board, we have time to ask for changes!
And guess what funding is included in the Medicare bill? If you picked, abstinence-only education, you are correct. Yup, in the same Medicare budget, $75 million will go to Title V abstinence-only funding over 18 months, despite the fact that 17 states have already rejected the money. Abstinence-only funding has been proven ineffective at reducing sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
Congress should be funding programs that would save lives and money! Call your U.S. Senators in their Washington, D.C. offices. Ask to speak to the legislative aide who handles health care issues. To reach your senators, call the Capitol Switchboard toll-free at 800-828-0498. Ask to be connected to your Senator's office. If you don't know who your senators are, go to www.congress.org and enter your zip code in the upper left corner. Whether you speak to a live person or leave a voicemail, use the following message.
If your senator is a Democrat:
"My name is ______ and I live in [your state]. The Senate's Medicare bill has left out a vital provision that would allow AIDS Drug Assistance Program spending to count towards Medicare Part D "true out of pocket" costs. I also ask that he eliminate funding for Title V abstinence-only education. Please have Senator______________ call Finance Chairman Max Baucus and ask him to include the ADAP provision in a Manager's Amendment to the bill, and eliminate funding for abstinence-only education."
If your senator is a Republican:
"My name is ______ and I live in [your state]. The Senate's Medicare bill has left out a vital provision that would allow AIDS Drug Assistance Program spending to count towards Medicare Part D "true out of pocket" costs. I also ask that he eliminate funding for Title V abstinence-only education. Please have Senator______________ call Finance Ranking Member Charles Grassley and ask him to include the ADAP provision in Medicare legislation that he supports, and eliminate funding for abstinence-only education."
This article was provided by Housing Works. It is a part of the publication Housing Works AIDS Issues Update. Visit Housing Works' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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