Letter to Senate: 'Save the Lives of People with HIV'

BY BTL STAFF

More than 100 organizations nationwide signed a letter to the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C. on June 12 to "save the lives of people with HIV."

The letter - sponsored by the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership's HIV Health Care Access Working Group - is an urgent request for the Senate to reject the American Health Care Act on behalf of the 23 million Americans estimated to lose coverage, including hundreds of thousands of individuals with HIV, if the bill is enacted.

Of the 140 national, state and local organizations that signed the letter, six are from Michigan - AL GAMEA, CARES of Southwest Michigan, Health Emergency Lifeline Programs, HIV/AIDS Alliance of Michigan, Michigan Positive Action Coalition, and the African American AIDS Task Force.

These organizations represent people living with HIV and vulnerable to HIV, public health and medical providers, HIV/AIDS service organizations, housing providers, and advocates from across the U.S.

The AHCA, or a modified version of it, would return America to a time when healthcare coverage was out of reach for too many people with HIV. The bill would cut billions of dollars from healthcare programs and offset billions of dollars through tax cuts, by retreating on the federal commitment to the Medicaid Program; phasing out of the Medicaid expansion; eroding key consumer protections that prevent discrimination against individuals with HIV; reducing premium assistance for lower income individuals; and ending cost sharing assistance. Together, these changes would be devastating to many people with HIV who would be left without affordable healthcare coverage options and would reverse recent gains in reducing HIV incidence and improving outcomes.

The organizations specified the reasons for opposing the AHCA:

- It will severely weaken the ability of the Medicaid program to respond to the needs of people with HIV and millions of others who count on it for lifesaving care.

- It will leave millions worse off by ending the Medicaid expansion.

- It will make healthcare coverage and services unaffordable.

- It will end key protections for people with HIV and 52 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.

- It will leave people with HIV and millions of others without coverage that will meet their basic medical needs.

- It will provide inadequate funding to stabilize the individual insurance market and give states the flexibility to create high-risk pools.

- It will defund Planned Parenthood.

- It will eliminate the Prevention & Public Health Fund.

The letter stresses that the community cannot afford to go back to the pre-ACA sick care system that focused on treating disability and disease rather than preventing it. The organizations that signed the letter urge the U.S. Senate to work to improve and build upon rather than dismantle health care reforms that have benefited millions of Americans, including hundreds of thousands living with HIV. Read the letter in its entirety here.


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