New York City's Gay Men's Health Crisis on Wednesday called on New York senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton to filibuster a Medicare bill that is being considered for a vote this week in the U.S. Senate, stating that the measure would turn the clock back on anti-HIV therapy for HIV-positive Medicare enrollees.
"The bill would deprive 50,000 HIV-positive 'dually eligible' Medicare-Medicaid beneficiaries of lifesaving medications," said GMHC executive director Ana Oliveira in a press release. "It is unacceptable that HIV-positive Medicare beneficiaries will have less access under this bill than they do now."
The drug benefit provision of the bill would restrict access for Medicare enrollees to only two drugs per medication class. This would particularly affect the growing numbers of HIV-positive individuals enrolled in Medicare who use multiple drugs to control HIV infection--sometimes three or more medications in the same drug class. The proposed legislation also would allow states to require dually eligible Medicaid-Medicare beneficiaries to obtain drug coverage through the more limited Medicare program. Currently, many HIV-positive Medicare beneficiaries have drug access through Medicaid, an important protection that would be denied under the bill currently being considered by Congress.
The bill, drafted by congressional Republicans, recently received the backing of the American Association of Retired Persons, which plans to spend $7 million in advertisements supporting the legislation. Other senior groups, including the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Alliance for Retired Americans, and Families USA, oppose the bill, as do many Democratic lawmakers and the national AFL-CIO labor union.