With health care reform’s future in jeopardy, AIDS advocates are calling on the House of Representatives “to work to make the long overdue promise of health reform a reality for the millions of uninsured Americans, including many with HIV/AIDS, who desperately need it.”
The HIV Health Care Access Working Group, a coalition of of AIDS advocates, sent a letter Monday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip James Clyburns asking the House of Representatives to continue this effort, and not further water down health care reform. See the letter below.
People with AIDS in the United States are poorer than the general population and also less likely to have adequate health care. Forty-five percent of people with HIV/AIDS in the United States have incomes under $10,000 a year, and 50 percent lack regular medical coverage.
While the House or Senate health care reform bills were far from perfect perfect, they both go a long way to providing universal access to health care and improving the fragmented HIV care system. Both bills expand Medicaid and make health insurance more affordable.
January 25, 2010
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer and Majority Whip Clyburn:
On behalf of the HIV Health Care Access Working Group, we thank you again for your tireless leadership in working to pass meaningful health care reform legislation. We are deeply concerned that the outcome of the Massachusetts elections could mean the end of this vital work.
While we understand that you currently do not have the House votes necessary to pass the Senate bill, we urge you to stand firm for comprehensive, meaningful health reform and to work to make the long overdue promise of health reform a reality for the millions of uninsured Americans, including many with HIV/AIDS, who desperately need it.
While we strongly support passage of the Senate bill, we also offer our support for other avenues for enacting a comprehensive reform package that includes all of the components that have already been approved by both the House and the Senate:
• A largely federally funded expansion of Medicaid to low income individuals
• An exchange or regulated marketplace for the uninsured and the underinsured to purchase health insurance
• Generous subsidies to make coverage affordable for those who need it
• Stricter regulations that govern the private market preventing discrimination
• An investment in reorienting our health system to focus on prevention and public health
• Critical measures to address primary care and public health medical workforce shortages
We are strongly opposed to efforts to craft a pared-down bill that only includes the most popular measures of reform without taking the comprehensive and bold steps necessary to dramatically reduce the number of Americans without health coverage and ensure meaningful access to health care for all Americans.
We do not believe that the vote in Massachusetts was a referendum on health care reform. In fact, as you know, Massachusetts has a health care system that serves as a model for national reform – with 98% of its residents covered and insurers not allowed to deny people based on pre-existing conditions.
One state’s election and the changeover of one Senate seat must not dictate whether or not we end the national shame of Americans getting sick and going bankrupt because of lack of affordable health coverage. Nor can we allow the insurance companies and other special interests to control this agenda. If Congress does not move quickly to pass meaningful reform, we will have lost the greatest opportunity in decades to substantially improve the health and lives of all Americans.
In addition, we strongly urge you to consider our Working Group’s priorities outlined in the attached letter. These provisions are needed to improve and expand access to care for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS, who are among the nation’s most vulnerable.
People with HIV, those with other chronic conditions, and all uninsured Americans are counting on Congress to work together and finalize meaningful health care reform legislation. We can’t abandon this vital effort.
For more information, please contact HHCAWG co-chairs Laura Hanen of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors at (202) 434-8091 or Robert Greenwald of the Treatment Access Expansion Project at (617) 390-2584.
AIDS Action Baltimore
AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families
AIDS Foundation of Chicago
The AIDS Institute
AIDS Project Los Angeles
AIDS Treatment Data Network
American Academy of HIV Medicine
Community Access National Network
Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project
Gay Men’s Health Crisis
Health and Disability Advocates
HIV Medicine Association
National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors
National Association of People With AIDS
National Minority AIDS Council
San Francisco AIDS Foundation
South Carolina Campaign to End AIDS
Treatment Access Expansion Project
Village Care of New York