IN THE LOOP

The news you need to know about 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 (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.

05/03/17

A Vote to Repeal the Affordable Care Act Could Happen TODAY or TOMORROW! Call Your Representative Now to #ProtectOurCare!

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The House of Representatives could vote on the American Health Care Act as early as today or tomorrow. This bill would be very detrimental to those living with HIV. The bill cuts Medicaid by $800 billion and rolls back Medicaid expansion, lets states decide what an Essential Health Benefit is, and removes mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions. An estimated 24 million Americans would lose health coverage.

We need you to call your representative.

The call in number is (866) 246-9371 (English) or (877) 736-7831 (Spanish). This number is toll-free and will connect you with your Representative.

You can also reach out on social media via Facebook, Twitter, etc. with the hashtag #ProtectOurCare.

Here is what you can say:

Hello my name is _______ and I live in [city & state]. I am a person [living with HIV /concerned about HIV]. I am calling to demand that you vote against the American Health Care Act. The American Health Care Act will hurt people living with and vulnerable to HIV by making it harder and more expensive to get the care they need. All Americans deserve better. I urge you to support people living with and vulnerable to HIV and oppose the American Health Care Act.

The AHCA is back and worse than before! Call your Representative now and tell them to vote NO!

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) is back and even worse than last time around, especially for people with pre-existing conditions. Last week, Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-New Jersey) of the moderate Republican “Tuesday Group” negotiated the addition of a provision to the original AHCA bill that he said would protect coverage for pre-existing conditions. However, the “MacArthur Amendment” makes it even more likely that millions of Americans will see their premiums rise and/or lose access to their health coverage. The provision would 1) roll back key pre-existing conditions protections (discrimination based on pre-existing conditions would be allowed except in states that choose to prohibit it), and 2) roll back nationwide standards that require plans to cover services like mental health, substance use treatment and maternity care, and that prohibit lifetime and annual limits. In addition, the revised AHCA bill would still cause 24 million Americans to lose coverage, slash $880 billion from Medicaid, and create massive premium hikes for older adults, women, and people with pre-existing conditions (including people living with HIV). Out-of-pocket costs could increase by an average of $3,600 per year, according to some estimates. For an in-depth analysis of how the new AHCA will hurt Americans, visit cbpp.org.

The Omnibus Spending Bill—a Yuge Surprise and Big Sigh of Relief

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Congressional Republicans and Democrats actually remembered how to compromise last week and crafted a $1 trillion omnibus budget bill that will fund the government through September—if as expected Congress votes on the measure this coming week. The bill includes something for nearly everyone, including increased spending for defense and border security (but not the wall!). On the HIV side, Ryan White Programs were level-funded (nearly) at $2.3 billion. Likewise the Center for Disease Control’s HIV prevention programs at $789 million. There was a $2 billion increase for the research at the National Institute of Health, and a $21 million increase for HOPWA—Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS. All good news. Unfortunately, Ryan White Part C directly funded clinics took a $4 million hit, and the CDC’s STD division was cut by $5 million—which went to an increase for abstinence-only sex education funding (proof that Congress spends money on bad ideas all the time). On the upside, the measure did not include threatened cuts to defund Planned Parenthood. Political pundits say the bill sets the stage for a 2018 budget bill later in the fall that may dodge the President’s proposal for a $50 million-plus increase in defense spending and concurrent cuts on the domestic side. This remains to be seen. A couple of days after Congress released the compromise, the President tweeted that the government could benefit from “a good shutdown” this fall to settle partisan differences over government spending.

Community Health Centers in Action in Sacramento

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APLA Health operates two federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) that provide medical, dental, and behavioral health care, HIV testing, STD screening and treatment, PrEP services, and much more. FQHCs provide comprehensive health care to over 6 million Californians each year, and most of their patients are low income—living at or below the federal poverty level. Many people living with HIV get their care through these clinics at places like the Los Angeles LGBT Center, AltaMed, St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, Tarzana Treatment Centers, and Wesley Health Centers to name a few. APLA Health clinics are located in Baldwin Hills on South La Brea Avenue and in Long Beach.

This week, APLA Health’s Government Affairs team was in Sacramento for “Day at the Capitol,” an annual event sponsored by the California Primary Care Association (CPCA). Day at the Capitol brings together medical providers, patients, and advocates to meet with elected officials and their staff about budget and legislative priorities impacting FQHCs. This year’s event focused on two bills sponsored by CPCA that aim to improve access to behavioral health care and ensure health centers can provide a higher level of care coordination for their patients. Other priorities include funding for workforce development, stopping the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and protecting immigrant communities. According to a recent study, community health centers provide care to over half of all individuals who gained access to Medi-Cal in California because of the Affordable Care Act. If you’re a patient at a community health center and you appreciate the care, treatment, and service you receive, let your legislator know next time you have the opportunity. These community health centers are vital to improving the health and well-being of millions of people across the country.

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