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.
Are You In? United Way Launches New Campaign to Engage Angelenos in Housing the Homeless
On March 9, United Way of Greater Los Angeles launched a new campaign, Everyone In, asking Angelenos to do their part to help end the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. At the launch, area leaders including Mayor Eric Garcetti, Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis, and Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell emphasized that the commitment to ending homelessness doesn’t end in the voting booth and that everyone must commit to helping the nearly 58,000 homeless in Los Angeles access critical services and permanent housing solutions. They asked, #AreYouIn?
Nearly $5 billion in newly dedicated funding over the next 10 years is tied to the Measure H and Proposition HHH strategies to build supportive housing and provide badly needed services ranging from mental health treatment to job training to street outreach and engagement. While initial progress has been made in the past year, there are still several roadblocks to combatting the homelessness crisis.
Everyone In is asking residents of Los Angeles County to step up and ask their local elected leaders to support building affordable housing in their neighborhood now, to attend community meetings (such as neighborhood council meetings) in support of all Measure H strategies, and to combat the NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) in their communities that has prevented more affordable housing from being built—the most important factor in successfully ending chronic homelessness.
Ending homelessness across Los Angeles County is going to take everyone doing their part, one person at a time. Learn more and sign up to join the campaign here, and follow the campaign’s progress at twitter.com/EveryoneIn_LA and facebook.com/EveryoneInLA.
PrEP Not Reaching Most Californians Who Could Benefit—Especially People of Color
Use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has increased dramatically among Medi-Cal beneficiaries in California, according to a new report by the California HIV/AIDS Policy Research Centers. Uptake lags, however, among people of color and other vulnerable communities. APLA Health is leading efforts to build awareness about PrEP and help ensure that it is available to everyone who could benefit from it.
The number of PrEP users in Medi-Cal increased from 79 in the first half of 2012—the year PrEP was first approved by the FDA—to 3,295 by the end of 2016. This is only a fraction of the estimated 200,000 Californians who could benefit from this HIV prevention tool. The report found uptake was significantly lower among Blacks, Latinos, women, and young people between the ages of 13-24.
The CDC released similar data earlier this month suggesting only a fraction of Americans who could benefit from PrEP are actually taking it, with African Americans and Latinos accounting for the smallest percentage of prescriptions to date. There is growing concern that if these trends continue, PrEP will only widen existing racial disparities in HIV infection rates. In California, the rate of new HIV cases among African Americans is over 4 times that of whites, and new diagnoses among Latinos is 1.5 times those of whites.
APLA Health and other HIV service providers are advocating for additional funding to help support PrEP outreach and education programs for vulnerable communities. APLA Health has also been instrumental in the development of the state’s PrEP Assistance Program—set to launch later this year—which will provide financial assistance for uninsured and underinsured individuals. To learn more about PrEP and find a provider near you, visit GetPrEPLA.com.
340B Drug Discount Program: What is it and why are we talking about it?
Unless you are a healthcare policy guru, you have likely never heard of the 340B drug discount program. Established in 1992, the 340B program is a Congressionally-mandated drug pricing program that allows safety net providers, including federally qualified health centers like APLA Health, to purchase prescription drugs at discounted prices. Savings from the 340B program give safety net providers—called “covered entities”—additional resources they can use to expand healthcare services for uninsured and underinsured patients. The program also gives many low-income patients access to lower-cost prescription drugs.
While the program has been in existence for decades, the number of covered entities has increased significantly in recent years, and now drug manufacturers are advocating at the federal and state levels for increased oversight and, possibly, changes to the scope of the program.
In California, Governor Brown is trying to completely prohibit covered entities from using the 340B program in Medi-Cal. This change would reduce the savings that covered entities have to expand services and ultimately harm access for low-income, vulnerable communities. APLA Health, for instance, uses savings from the 340B program to extend navigation and case management services, prevention education programs, and other vital support services to all low-income patients. Scaling back the 340B program in California would only hurt low-income patients and their providers who rely on the program to expand critical services.
APLA Health and other safety net providers are pushing back to make sure legislators understand the importance of the 340B program and ensure that any changes do not negatively impact vulnerable communities. We will continue to provide updates as various 340B proposals move forward at the state and federal levels.
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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.