U.S. Senate’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) bill is certain to wreak havoc on US fight against HIV/AIDS. Bill is unveiled a day after AIDSVu’s latest heat map of HIV incidence county-by-county nationwide shows epidemic’s growing reach, particularly in the South.
MIAMI (June 27, 2017) On the heels of the U.S. Senate’s vote on the proposed changes to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and cuts to Medicaid that will have a devastating impact on tackling the national HIV/AIDS epidemic, close to 100 advocates from community organizations from across south Florida joined AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to protest at the Miami regional district office of Senator Marco Rubio.
In response to the recent release of the U.S. Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, released the following statement:
“From what we can see today, the changes to Medicaid put forth in the Senate version of the American Health Care Act will be gasoline on the fire of the U.S. AIDS epidemic,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Medicaid is the main safety net program for low-income people, with or without HIV, and cutting this program will have devastating impacts on individuals, communities and the entire healthcare system. It was not that many years ago that we had long wait lists for ADAP, which will undoubtedly return if Medicaid is drastically cut. AHF urges the U.S. Senate to go back to the drawing board and work on a measure that provides health care coverage for all Americans. This current draft would create a public health disaster especially for people living with HIV and those most at risk for acquiring HIV.
The Senate bill was unveiled a day after AIDSVu’s latest heat map showing the incidence of HIV in the US county by county nationwide was released. AIDSVu is a project run by Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in partnership with biotech company, Gilead Sciences, which has been mapping HIV by county since 2010. AIDSVu’s latest heat map documents the epidemic’s devastation in the South as well as many of the states that have chosen to opt out of Medicaid expansion.
According to healthinsurance.org, over 3.5 million individuals in Florida are currently relying on Medicaid for healthcare coverage. Recent statistics from the Florida Department of Health, indicate that close to 120,000 individuals in the state are living with HIV, with a trend of over 2,000 new HIV diagnosis annually occurring statewide, with Miami-Dade and Broward counties being most impacted by this increase in new diagnosis.
A report recently released by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation on HIV and Medicaid support indicated the following:
- Medicaid is the largest source of insurance coverage for people with HIV, estimated to cover more than 40% of people with HIV in care.
- The number of Medicaid beneficiaries has grown over time, rising from 212,900 in 2007 to 242,000 in 2011, a 14% increase and continually increasing;
- Medicaid spending on HIV has also increased over time, reflecting growing numbers of beneficiaries with HIV and the rising cost of car;
- Medicaid spending on HIV accounts for 30% of all federal spending on HIV care and when combining the states’ share of spending, is the second largest source of public financing for HIV care in the U.S.