The San Francisco AIDS Foundation has issued this important alert; and your comments are needed:
Posted by Melanie Nathan, February 01, 2012
In 2014, thousands of people living with HIV and AIDS will have access to private insurance—many for the first time—thanks to the leadership of President Obama and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and to the creation of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as health care reform. But to be meaningful, insurance coverage must include the comprehensive services that people living with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses need to stay healthy.
Target action by January 31st and beyond; Last month, we saw a crucial step toward the implementation of health care reform. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an “Essential Health Benefits Bulletin,” which includes an outline of the Essential Health Benefits package (EHB). This is a critical moment, because the bulletin and EHB will help define what must be covered either by private insurers or through Medicaid expansion.
THE PROBLEM – The newly released bulletin indicates that it will be up to each state to create its own benchmarks for what the EHB should be in each state. This approach fails to create a high national standard for benefits coverage and will result in significant variability in coverage from state to state.
A bare-bones health benefits package jeopardizes access to the services that people with HIV/AIDS and others with complex medical conditions need to stay healthy and productive. Furthermore, allowing states the flexibility to choose their own benchmarks that may not cover essential HIV and AIDS services does not meet the letter and spirit of the Affordable Care Act’s anti-discrimination mandates, nor does it forward the goals of the act to expand access to meaningful health care coverage and to provide a robust national standard of coverage.
WHAT YOU CAN DO – Comments to HHS on this EHB bulletin are due January 31, 2012. It is critical you tell HHS why more specific guidance on the EHB is important, including safeguards and protections, to ensure meaningful access to health care for people living with HIV and AIDS and other individuals with complex health care needs.
To make your voice heard, send a letter to EssentialHealthBenefits@cms.hhs.gov. It may not be too late!
RESOURCES TO HELP YOU
For suggestions on what to include in your letter, here are talking points to help guide your response. You can also use the comments submitted to HHS by the HIV Health Care Access Working Group as a template. For more information, visit www.hivhealthreform.org.
About San Francisco AIDS Foundation
No city experienced epidemic levels of HIV faster than San Francisco. San Francisco AIDS Foundation, works to end the epidemic where it first took hold, and eventually everywhere. Established in 1982, their mission is the radical reduction of new infections in San Francisco. Through education, advocacy, and direct services for prevention and care, they are confronting HIV in communities most vulnerable to the disease. They refuse to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable. For more information, go to www.sfaf.org.