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HRC says Medicaid
cuts will hurt HIVers

HRC says Medicaid
cuts will hurt HIVers

House version of bill would force many Medicaid participants to pay higher premiums and deductibles for HIV services.

The House of Representatives last week voted 217-215 for a budget reconciliation measure that slashes funding for state-run Medicaid programs, which ultimately will hurt scores of HIV-positive people who rely on Medicaid for their care and treatment, the Human Rights Campaign said in a press statement. The measure will either force low-income HIVers into the already overburdened Ryan White CARE ACT system or require them to pay much more for their medical care, HRC says.

"Congress and the White House have abandoned their 'compassionate' side to the extremist conservatives," said HRC president Joe Solmonese. "The health of thousands of men, women, and children are threatened when the far-right wing unravels the health care safety net." He adds, "Disastrous cuts to Medicaid combined with inadequate funding for federal HIV/AIDS efforts represent the congressional leadership's poor response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic."

The House version of the budget reconciliation bill allows state-run Medicaid programs to charge higher premiums and deductibles for program participants. The Senate version of the bill does not include these provisions, and it's unclear whether the provisions will be included in the final legislation crafted by a joint House-Senate conference committee.

The vote on the House bill came on the heels of a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows enormous disparities in HIV infection rates across the country. Although the overall HIV infection rate among African-Americans was shown to be dropping, blacks were eight times more likely to be infected with HIV than whites. HIV infection rates also were shown to be rising among gay and bisexual men, climbing 8% between 2003 and 2004 after having remained relatively stable for several years. (Advocate.com)

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