California assemblyman Paul Koretz marked World AIDS Day on Wednesday by urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to stop dragging his feet on implementing two HIV-related bills that will reduce HIV infections and improve treatment for HIV-positive Californians. One bill, AB 2197, would encourage all eligible HIV-positive enrollees in the state's MediCal program to move into managed care plans, with the resulting savings to be used for expanding MediCal services for low-income HIV-positive enrollees not eligible for managed care. Koretz says the state health department has no time lines for implementing the measure, which was passed by lawmakers with bipartisan support. The other bill, AB 879, requires the state to develop physician-approved guidelines for using postexposure prophylaxis in cases of nonoccupational exposure to HIV, including through sexual contact. The state health department has failed to make the guidelines available to physicians on its Web site.
"All reasonable excuses have been exhausted, and it is now time for the governor to intervene and order an end to his administration's bureaucratic foot-dragging on the implementation of AB 2197, passed in 2002, and AB 879, passed in 2003," says Koretz, a Democrat representing West Hollywood. "The State Department of Health Services has had more than ample time to implement the provisions of these laws. These bills passed with bipartisan support, can be implemented at virtually no cost to the state, and will prevent HIV infections and expand treatment for the uninsured."