The AIDS Health Foundation (AHF) and Minority Development and Empowerment (MDEI) will host free town hall meetings on July 18 in Broward and on July 25 in Miami. The purpose of these meetings is to inform people of the effects of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) on the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). According to Jason King of AIDS Health Foundation, people currently on ADAP with incomes above the Federal Poverty Level will have to move by January 1, 2014 from ADAP to the Health Exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act. Lorraine Wells, Florida ADAP State Program Manager will be present at these events to give the most recent information.
The Broward event will be held on July 18 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Sister Innocent Conference Center of Holy Cross Hospital, (by the South Entrance of the Hospital, roughly 47th Street and North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. For a more specific location, please visit http://www.holy-cross.com/sites/default/files/pdf/HCH_2D_Map.pdf). As of press time, no location for the Miami event has been identified. You can call Jason King of the AIDS Health Foundation (954-610-3064) for more up to date information.
Prior to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could deny insurance to people with pre-existing conditions such as HIV infection. Much of the HIV care system was set up to deal with this exclusion. With the end of this exclusion, major changes loom in HIV health care. For example, ADAP is the “payer of last resort,” meaning that people have to exhaust all other options, before ADAP will begin to pay for HIV meds. ADAP will continue to cover people with incomes below the Federal Poverty Level of incomes of $11,170 per year for a single individual. With private insurance opening up for HIV positive people, ADAP clients with incomes at or above the Federal Poverty Level will have to move to private insurance, which they can purchase on the Health Exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act. Enrollment in these Health Exchanges will begin October 1, 2013 and must be completed by January 1, 2014.
The Affordable Care Act will provide subsidies for people with incomes up to four times the Federal Poverty Level (four times $11,170 is $44,680 per year for an individual). People with lower incomes will be eligible for higher subsidies. People, however, will still have to pay something for health insurance. According to Jason King of AIDS Health Foundation, “People transitioning from ADAP to the Health Exchanges will pay a small premium.” King explained that at present no one knows exactly how payment for the Health Exchanges will work. He suggested it could be similar to a Ryan White Care Program that pays insurance expenses.
A similar process occurred in Massachusetts. In 2006, Massachusetts set up its own version of health care reform, which became the model for the Affordable Care Act. According to James M. Friedman of the American Academy of HIV Medicine, after Massachusetts implemented its Health Care Reform in 2006, “ADAP funding [was] spent on insurance, not pharmaceuticals.”
The initial set up of any program, especially one as complex as the Affordable Care Act, has lots of chances for things to go wrong and confusion to spread.
“The purpose of this event is to minimize the confusion inherent in a change of this magnitude,” explained Jason King.
While some people may feel threatened by this change, the Affordable Care Act has unleashed both opportunities and challenges. People with HIV infection, their caregivers, and case-managers have to pay particular attention to these changes.
King emphasized, “It is important for people to come to this event because if they do not understand and act on the upcoming changes they may lose access to their AIDS medications.”
Free Broward Town Hall Meetings on the Effects of the Affordable Care Act on ADAP clients
July 18, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Sister Innocent Conference Center
Holy Cross Hospital
NE 47th Street and North Federal Highway (by the South Entrance of the Hospital)
For more specific location information, please visit http://bit.ly/157n1BD