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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

The Affordable Care Act and People Living With HIV or AIDS

By Richard Sorian

September 14, 2010

This article was cross-posted from the AIDS.gov blog. Richard Sorian is the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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If you or a loved one is living with HIV or AIDS, you know how far our nation has come in treating and reducing the spread of the disease -- and how much more we need to do.

People living with HIV and AIDS have always had a difficult time obtaining access to health coverage. Medicaid, Medicare, and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program have provided a critical safety net. But today, nearly 30% of people living with HIV do not have any health insurance coverage, and many others have limited coverage. In addition, people living with HIV and AIDS have faced hurdles to getting quality care from qualified providers.

The Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in March helps make it easier and fairer for people living with HIV or AIDS to get the coverage and care they need. It will:

  • Stop insurance discrimination.As early as September 23, 2010, insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage to children because they have HIV or AIDS. And insurers won't be able to rescind coverage for adults or children unless they can show evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of a material fact in an application.
  • Increase access to coverage. Starting in 2014, adults also may not be denied coverage based on their HIV status, and no one may be charged higher premiums because of their HIV status or any other disability. The Affordable Care Act will also broaden Medicaid eligibility so that low-income people living with HIV won't have to wait for an AIDS diagnosis to become eligible. Tax credits will help middle class Americans better afford coverage also starting in 2014.
  • Improve quality of coverage. Annual and lifetime limits on coverage can keep people living with HIV/AIDS from getting the care they need. Ending lifetime limits and phasing out annual limits will ensure that coverage is there when people need it, which is what the Affordable Care Act will do starting as early as September 23, 2010. In addition, under the Affordable Care Act, many private insurance plans will soon be required to cover recommended preventive services like regular check-ups and HIV screening tests at no additional cost -- helping people stay healthy and access life-saving treatments more quickly. In January, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare will adopt a similar policy.
  • Provide better care.The Affordable Care Act also makes key investments in our health care system, including expanding the health care workforce and increasing funding for community health centers.

These moves complement the ambitious goals President Obama has set out in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and will help equalize access to health coverage and care for Americans living with HIV and AIDS.

Yesterday, Secretary Sebelius spoke to the United States Conference on AIDS on this topic. To learn more, visit www.AIDS.gov.

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U.S. Health Care Reform
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