IN THE LOOP
The news you need to know about this week
Welcome to our update on the news you should know about now and how it affects you and the communities we serve.
Every couple of weeks we’ll send you an e-mail featuring important updates. We know there’s a lot to keep track of out there, and that’s why we’ve made this short and sweet, but also informative. As always, thank you for your support of APLA Health and please share this email with others who may be interested.
Join Us in L.A. and Rally to Save the ACA Friday, March 10
This Friday starting at 10 a.m., APLA Health and many other community based organizations, along with concerned citizens, will be taking part in a rally in support of the Affordable Care Act and the life-saving health services it has brought to millions in California and across the country. Come join us and make your voices heard!
The gathering will take place at LA USC Hospital at 2051 Marengo St, Los Angeles, CA 90033 (on the steps off Marengo Street in front of new hospital and across from Clinica Romero).
You can find more information and details at the Facebook event page.
Republicans Make Their Move on Health Care—and It Isn’t Pretty
Congressional Republicans released their bills to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this week. There is little in the way of good news in the legislation for the people APLA Health serves. It eventually ends full federal funding for the ACA’s massive expansion of the Medicaid program for low-income individuals and imposes a per-enrollee cap on Medicaid coverage for the first time ever.
A per-enrollee cap will reduce federal funding for Medicaid over time, resulting in reductions in benefits or the number of beneficiaries or both. Tens of thousands of people living with HIV and millions more LGBTQ and low-income individuals currently rely on Medicaid for health care. These bills remove the ACA tax penalties for Americans who do not have health insurance, replace them with tax credits to encourage people to buy insurance, and repeal tax provisions on the rich and corporations that have funded much of the ACA.
The bills continue to allow adult children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26 and prohibit insurers from charging people with pre-existing medical conditions more for coverage as long as they don’t let their insurance lapse. Most of the worst of the bill will not take effect until after the next mid-term elections—a cowardly and predictable move. The Congressional Budget Office has yet to score the legislation, so there is no way to know how much it will really cost and how many people stand to lose health coverage.
Call your members of Congress today at 866.426.2631. Tell them not to vote on the bill until we know what the impact of the legislation is going to be.
We will be reporting on the progress of the bills over the coming weeks. It’s far from a done deal, with even some Republicans opposing them. There are numerous opportunities to protest the legislation, and you can find such events across California at fight4ourhealth.org.
California Cancels Contract With ADAP Administrator
In a move to fix ongoing problems with the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), the California Department of Public Health last week terminated its contract with A.J. Boggs, the company responsible for conducting enrollment and eligibility serves since last July. Beginning this week, enrollment and eligibility services will be handled directly by the Department of Public Health. This decision comes after numerous complaints from clients and enrollment workers, as well as pressure from HIV advocates and key members of the state Legislature.
Since the state transferred administration of the program to three new contractors in July 2016, clients have experienced delays accessing medication, cancelled insurance policies, and difficulties receiving reimbursement for medical expenses. If you are an ADAP client, you are not required to take any action because of this change. Effective this week, the toll-free phone number to call regarding any eligibility questions is 844.421.7050. You can also call or visit your ADAP enrollment specialist if you have additional questions or problems accessing your benefits. For assistance at APLA Health, call 213.201.1615. You can also read more the situation here.
Health Agency Director Mitch Katz Reaffirms L.A. County Commitment to ACA
On February 21, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion stating that Los Angeles County would work to preserve health benefits provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The supervisors highlighted that over 1 million county residents have gained health coverage since the advent of the ACA in 2014.
Health Agency Director Dr. Mitch Katz followed up on the motion last week, in an interview with California Healthline. Even though L.A. County has more to lose than any other county in the country if the ACA is repealed or scaled back, Katz stressed that the question has never been “Should we continue to provide coverage?” Instead, it should be “How”?
Under the ACA, the County received additional funding that it put toward building infrastructure to support the newly insured population, and it used this opportunity to “make the system work,” Katz said, explaining that it’s critical the County work to develop both coverage and financing options to protect a new system if the ACA is repealed. He said that the state needs to look at possible revenue sources from taxes and fees, as well as the impact of a coverage mandate or changes in the way health care is delivered that could generate savings. You can read a recent interview with Katz at California Healthline.
Stay in the loop!
We will send you regular updates on issues and policies affecting the LGBT and/or HIV communities and urge you to call or e-mail your representatives about key political activity at the local, state, and federal levels.