IN THE LOOP
The news you need to know this week
Welcome to the latest edition of our update on the news you need to know and how it affects you and the communities we serve. Every couple of weeks we send out an e-mail featuring important updates, and you can sign up below! As always, thank you for your support of APLA Health, and please share this with others who may be interested.
Join the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s launch of the Los Angeles County HIV/AIDS Strategy for 2020 and Beyond
World AIDS Day, December 1
10 a.m. – Noon
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 5th Floor
135 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
* No RSVP Required, Metro Accessible, Parking Free at the Music Center *
Reception to Follow
The Fiscal Cliff
The Government Affairs staff has asked you to call your representatives and senators several times over the past few months regarding the “fiscal cliff”—the expiration of a major source of funding for the nation’s community health centers, including APLA Health’s Gleicher/Chen Health Center and Long Beach Health Center. In November the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3922, legislation that would provide a 5-year extension of CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) funding and a 2-year funding extension for health centers, National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and Teaching Health Centers (THC). However, H.R. 3922 does NOT have bipartisan agreement on the spending aspects. The House vote was largely along party lines. While there is bipartisan agreement on funding these critical programs, negotiations are still underway in the Senate to find a bipartisan funding solution. At this point, the cliff fix could be wrapped into a supplemental disaster funding package, an early December Continuing Resolution, or a larger end-of-year omnibus spending package. Currently Congress’ attention is focused on tax cuts and there is unlikely to be any movement on health center funding until the tax bill is resolved.
As soon as we have more details on a bill, we will be sending out an Action Alert. We want to thank you very much for all of your efforts so far and your continued commitment to secure funding for the nation’s community health centers.
Hepatitis A Outbreak Among Gay/Bisexual Men in Los Angeles
Protect yourself against hepatitis A! Find out if you should get vaccinated.
Last month, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency in California for hepatitis A following a large outbreak of the infection among people who are homeless or use illicit drugs across the state. Now, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has reported an increased number of cases of hepatitis A (HAV) among men who have sex with men (MSM). People with HIV and MSM are at a higher risk for hepatitis A infection. While the risk is relatively small, hepatitis A is potentially life-threatening.
What is Hepatitis A and what are the symptoms?
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus that infects the liver and can cause liver disease. Once you have the virus, it can last from a few weeks to several months, depending on the severity of the infection.
- Feeling tired
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Dark urine
- Grey stool
- Yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice)
How is it spread?
Hepatitis A spreads from person to person by putting something in your mouth (object, food, or drink) that has been in contact with feces of an infected person. This includes sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A.
How is it treated?
Treatment for hepatitis A includes rest, good nutrition, fluids, and medical monitoring. Most people recover completely and don’t have lasting liver damage, but some people may need to be hospitalized. It is especially important for those with weakened immune systems, including people with HIV, to see their doctor as soon as possible if they have any symptoms of hepatitis A.
Am I at risk?
Anyone can get hepatitis A. However, men who have sex with men are more at-risk and people with a weakened immune system, including people with HIV, are at a higher risk of developing a severe illness from hepatitis A. Other people at risk of getting hepatitis A include those who:
- Travel or live in countries where hepatitis A is common (often due to poor sanitation)
- Live with someone who has hepatitis A
- Use recreational drugs
- Have sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A
- Are homeless
How can I protect myself?
The best way to protect yourself against hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. The shot is safe, even for people with HIV and it is very effective. It is very important that people with a weakened immune system, like people with HIV, get vaccinated to protect themselves from hepatitis A. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before, after and between sex, before eating or preparing food, and after using the bathroom can also be very helpful in preventing hepatitis A.
The hepatitis A vaccine is administered with two doses 6-12 months apart. You will be protected after your first shot after a few weeks, but receiving the second dose allows for longer lasting protection.
Hepatitis A Vaccination Resources in Los Angeles County
LAC DPH Clinics: Free hepatitis A vaccine is available at the LAC DPH Public Health Centers for any uninsured and underinsured at-risk people. Clinic times and locations are posted here.
Hepatitis A Vaccination Resources Medi-Cal: Hepatitis A vaccine is covered for patients enrolled in both fee-for-service and managed care plans. Vaccine administration is covered if administered in a provider’s office or by an in-network pharmacy. No prior authorization is required. Patients or those assisting them can call the plan’s member services number listed on the back of their Medi-Cal Benefits Identification Card to obtain information on pharmacy services.
AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP): Hepatitis A vaccine is included on the ADAP formulary.
California’s Uninsured Rate Drops to New Low
A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics shows that the uninsured rate in California is at an all-time low. The report also shows the states that aggressively implemented the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including California, have half as many uninsured as those that didn’t.
The report from the CDC provides estimates of health insurance coverage based on data from the January 2017–June 2017 National Health Interview Survey. According to the report, California’s uninsured rate dropped to a new low of 6.8 percent in the first six months of the year—down from 7.2 percent in the first six months of 2016. In 2013, the year before the ACA was fully implemented, California’s uninsured rate was 17 percent.
In addition, the report found that the uninsured rate in states that set up their own health insurance exchanges—like California—is roughly half that of states that use the health insurance exchange run by the federal government. In the first six months of 2017, states with their own exchanges had an average uninsured rate of 8.3 percent, while states that used the federally facilitated exchange had an average uninsured rate of 16.1 percent. This difference in coverage is partially due to Medicaid expansion, as nearly all states that set up their own exchanges also expanded their Medicaid programs.
Don’t forget that open enrollment for Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace, runs until January 31st. And if you are eligible for Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, you can sign up at any time. Learn more here.
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.