Attention Senate: American Health Care Act Must Protect People Living with HIV & Hepatitis

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People living with HIV and others cannot lose pre-existing condition clause

Just moments ago, the House of Representatives passed a bill that, if enacted, would take away insurance coverage for millions of Americans and end protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The American Health Care Act passed the House with 217 votes and not a single Democrat voting for it. The American Health Care Act puts the health of people living with or at risk for HIV and/or hepatitis in jeopardy.

The bill would:

  • Do harm to people living with pre-existing conditions by allowing insurance companies to go back to pre-Affordable Care Act (ACA) rules and charge people higher premiums because of their health status
  • Permit states to waive Essential Health Benefits requirements, meaning that insurers will no longer be required to provide the services people living with and at risk for HIV and hepatitis need to stay healthy, including prescription drugs, mental and behavioral health services, and preventive services
  • Ends the Medicaid expansion and significantly reduces federal Medicaid funding through a per capita cap. These cuts will force states to limit eligibility, benefits, and important consumer protections and would mean going back to cruel pre-ACA rules where a person must wait to be disabled by HIV or hepatitis in order to be eligible for Medicaid
  • Eliminates funding for vital services provided by the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which funds 12% of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget

A last-minute amendment to the bill providing a small amount of additional funding to help offset the insurance costs of people with pre-existing conditions is woefully inadequate and does nothing to mitigate the harmful impact the bill would have on vulnerable populations.

“The bill simply does not live up to the promise made by the President and Members of Congress that people living with pre-existing conditions, including HIV and hepatitis, will be protected,” noted NASTAD Executive Director Murray Penner. “The bill will make it harder, if not impossible, for people living with HIV and hepatitis to find affordable insurance that actually meets their prevention, care, and treatment needs. It will decimate Medicaid, the biggest safety net program for low-income people living with and at risk for HIV and hepatitis. Moreover, it will hamper our nation’s ability and momentum to end the HIV and hepatitis epidemics,” Penner added.

As the bill moves to the Senate, NASTAD, along with national public health and chronic condition partners, will continue to highlight the importance of preserving protections for people with pre-existing conditions and the Medicaid program. “We need a system of health coverage that works for everyone, including low-income people living with chronic conditions and disabilities, and we urge Congress to keep their promise to ensure that the most vulnerable Americans do not lose access to life-saving prevention, care, and treatment,” Penner concluded.

About NASTAD

Founded in 1992, NASTAD is a leading non-partisan non-profit association that represents public health officials who administer HIV and hepatitis programs in the U.S. and around the world. Our singular mission is to end the intersecting epidemics of HIV, viral hepatitis, and related conditions. We do this work by strengthening domestic and global governmental public health through advocacy, capacity building, and social justice.

[From a News Release]


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