California law requires HMOs to offer referrals to HIV specialists

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com December 31 2002 12:00 AM ET

A new California law that takes effect in mid January will require all health maintenance organizations that operate in the state to refer HIV-positive patients to HIV/AIDS specialists, Reuters Health reports. The legislation was signed into law in September, but its implementation was delayed while state officials and health experts worked to define what constitutes a specialty in HIV/AIDS care. Qualified physicians must meet one of four criteria to be considered a specialist or already carry the designation of "HIV specialist" from the American Academy of HIV Medicine. The law gives HMO patients the right to obtain care from providers with experience in treating HIV disease.

"This is an important milestone for all Californians living with HIV/AIDS who are covered by managed care plans," said former state assemblyman Martin Gallegos (D-Los Angeles), who wrote the legislation. "This bill and these regulations will help save lives." The law takes effect January 16.