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HIV Health Care Access Working Group Action Alert: Tell Congress to Make Health Care Reform Work for People With HIV/AIDS

June 18, 2009

Congress is moving quickly to develop and pass health care reform legislation. One committee in the Senate will begin debating legislation this week.

The move to reform health care in the United States must ensure that everyone living with HIV benefits from early and reliable access to lifesaving care and treatment. However, there are increasing rumors and concern that three top priorities for people with HIV/AIDS will not be addressed in the final legislation. Coordinated action by our entire community is needed NOW to make sure Congress knows how important these three core provisions are for all of us:

  • Expanding Medicaid for all low-income people, including childless adults, by eliminating current requirements that tie Medicaid to disability status. This would give approximately 42% of all people living with HIV who are currently uninsured immediate access to health care through Medicaid.
  • Including Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA) language which gives states the option to expand Medicaid access to low-income people living with HIV whose incomes are above established Medicaid income eligibility rules. This will give states the option to expand coverage for people living with HIV/AIDS, reaching more than 75% who are currently uninsured.
  • Including a strong public plan option to help provide affordable access to comprehensive care for people HIV -- nearly 30 percent of whom have no insurance. This would offer a national standard for coverage and greater dependability, consistency and security for people with HIV than private plans, which can charge higher prices and/or close, merge or change benefits at will.

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All three of these priorities are crucial to ensure the best possible expansion of care and treatment for people with HIV/AIDS and must be part of any final health care reform package.

Decisions are being made quickly and Congress needs to hear directly from people who are most impacted by this legislation. Please take a minute to make two important phone calls today!


How You Can Help

The Senate is considering health care legislation right now, so calls are needed to both of your Senators.

Call your two United States Senators in their Washington, DC office. Ask to speak to the staff person who handles HIV and health care issues. You might get their voicemail, or you might speak to them in person. Either way, tell them:

"My name is ____________ and I live in (city/state). I am very concerned that health care reform will not meet the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. Any final health care legislation must eliminate the disability requirement for Medicaid and ensure that all low-income people, including childless adults, have early access to care. It must also include language from the Early Treatment for HIV Act which expands access to Medicaid for people living with HIV. Finally, it must have a public plan option to best ensure affordable access to comprehensive care for people with HIV. All three provisions are crucial to ensure that people with HIV/AIDS have early access to care and treatment that keep them healthy and productive. I urge Senator ______________ to do everything in his/her power to fight for these important provisions."

You can reach your Senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 1-202-224-3121. If you don't know who your Senators are, go to www.congress.org and enter your zip code in the upper right corner.

Phone calls are particularly effective right now because Congress is moving quickly. However, if you prefer to send an email, go to your Senator's website (linked from www.senate.gov). You will find instructions on sending emails to that office. Cut and paste the phone message, make sure your name and the Senator's name is included, and add a short personal note explaining why this issue is important to you.

If you need help figuring out who your Senators are or how to call/email them, write to action@projectinform.org and someone will help!


For More Information

Go to www.taepusa.org for background information and analyses of various health care reform proposals and the impact on people with HIV/AIDS.

The HIV Health Care Access Working Group is hosting regular conference calls to update the community about health care reform efforts and how people can get involved. All are invited to participate. The calls are the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month at 2 pm Eastern. To join the call, dial 218-339-2699 and enter access code 968918.


Other Actions

If you live in or near Washington, DC, join the "Light the Night" rally organized by the SEIU Health Care Equality Project demanding legislation that provides high quality, affordable care for all. For more information, go to http://healthcareequalityproject.org.

The HIV Health Care Access Working Group is a coalition of 84 national and community-based AIDS service organizations representing HIV medical providers, advocates and people living with HIV/AIDS and providing critical HIV-related health care and support services. For more information, contact co-chairs Laura Hanen, of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, at 202.434.8091, or Robert Greenwald, of the Treatment Access Expansion Project, at 617.390.2584.



  
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This article was provided by Project Inform. Visit Project Inform's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 
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