Friday, June 29, 2012

GMHC Salutes Supreme Court Decision on the Affordable Care Act

GMHC is heartened by the Supreme Court's ruling to maintain the President's passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This is promising news for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).   ACA will expand healthcare access to include people with pre-existing conditions such as HIV.

It will also provide many Americans with healthcare who have traditionally had reduced access to care. Among those who will immediately benefit from the full implementation of ACA are those most at-risk for HIV infection and poor health outcomes, such as men of color who have sex with men, women of color, transitionally-housed individuals, senior citizens and youth.  

"This is the single most important public health legislation since Medicaid/Medicare, and will impact more people living with HIV/AIDS than Ryan White legislation," said Marjorie Hill, PhD, CEO of GMHC. "We are relieved and proud of having affordable, accessible health care for more Americans."

Upholding this critically important law allows the Obama Administration to continue to advance the ongoing implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.  The available tools to realistically stop the growth of this epidemic are finally coming into place. This nation is now better poised to achieve the President's goal of this next generation being an "AIDS-Free Generation."

Of the more than 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. today, an estimated one in five, or nearly one quarter of a million people, do not know they are infected. One-third of those who are HIV-positive are diagnosed so late in the course of their infection that they are evaluated with AIDS during the first year post-diagnosis. And we have learned that early diagnosis and treatment are mandatory in order to save lives and reduce the spread of HIV.

ACA also has a provision for Medicaid expansion which would benefit PLWHA who need competent and consistent healthcare. However, allowing states to opt out of Medicaid expansion could potentially result in compromised care in specific regions of the country, contributing to geographic health disparities and will likely disproportionally impact lower-income people.

GMHC will continue to engage the U.S. Congress, state and local governments and federal agencies to ensure that ACA will reach its full potential. We call on our community partners and other public health stakeholders to ensure essential health benefits and best practices are developed--and realized--to the benefit of HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals.

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