Healio Special Report: Health Care and Politics

Healio Special Report: Health Care and Politics

January 04, 2017
2 min read

Over 950 HIV professionals sign letter to Congress urging access to care

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Concerned about their patients’ access to care, HIV professionals from all over the country are urging Congress not to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a suitable replacement, and to sustain a federal commitment to Medicaid.

More than 950 physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and other medical professionals from 37 states and the District of Columbia signed a letter that was sent to Congress on the first day the Republican-led legislature was back in session.

Jeanne Marrazzo

Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH, director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, said she signed the letter because having access to insurance means patients living with HIV are more likely to receive care to keep themselves healthy and prevent transmission of the virus to others.

“The ACA’s effect has been exponential in facilitating this — it’s no time to stop now,” Marrazzo told Infectious Disease News. “We’ve barely begun to realize the impact this should have on our patient’s quality of life, and on population health.”

Republicans have long tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which guarantees coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions such as HIV and includes mandates for screening prevention services for HIV, hepatitis C virus and various sexually transmitted infections without copays.

In states with expanded Medicaid coverage under the ACA, households earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level have access to coverage regardless of disability status.

Credit: Shutterstock.com
Hundreds of HIV professionals in the U.S. signed a letter to Congress voicing their concern about their patients' access to care.
Source: Shutterstock.com

Republican President-elect Donald J. Trump frequently declared on the campaign trail that he would seek to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, but has since said he would like to keep certain components of the legislation, including the part that guarantees coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions.

The situation has left some infectious disease experts anxious and uncertain about what they can expect from the incoming administration.

The letter was signed by members of the HIV Medicine Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, and the Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition.

It asks Congress to consider the needs of patients living with HIV and not to make changes to the ACA without plans to address the medical needs of low-income patients. It says the federal commitment to Medicaid should be sustained and Medicaid expansion should continue.

“Please consider the needs of individuals with HIV as you evaluate changes to the ACA,” the letter concludes. “Their lives and our ability to make significant headway against the HIV epidemic in the U.S. depend on it.” – by Gerard Gallagher

Disclosure: Marrazzo reports no relevant financial disclosures.