IN THE LOOP
The top 3 things you need to know about this week
We’re pleased to introduce our new biweekly update on what you should know about the current state of legislation, public policy, HIV and LGBTQ issues, and health care, and how it affects you. As APLA Health’s Government Affairs team, we keep track of a variety of issues on the local, state, and federal levels and want to share some of the latest developments as they unfold.
Every couple of weeks we’ll send you an e-mail featuring a few important updates. We know there’s a lot to keep track of out there right now, 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.
Uncertainty and Then Some: What Happened to “Repeal Obamacare”?
The current state of health care politics in Washington, D.C., is—for lack of any better term—murky. As you no doubt know, the Trump administration and Congress have repeatedly vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare. But it turns out repeal could rip coverage away from 20 million Americans—including the 3.5 million Californians who purchased coverage through the state’s health care exchange, Covered California, or who accessed the state’s expanded Medi-Cal program. So repeal has morphed into “repeal and delay” or “repeal and repair,” whichever will best delay the political punishment that’s sure to follow if Americans lose their coverage. Our best guess is that Congress will kick the issue down the road, maybe until after the 2018 midterm elections (they like keeping their jobs), but stay tuned: We’ll update you as we learn more about what’s happening in Washington and how that will impact us in California.
If you want to make your voice heard on health care issues, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Chuck Schumer are supporting protest activities at congressional offices around the country this Saturday, Feb. 25. Visit ourrevolution.com for a map of congressional events in California, including a meeting at Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s office in Orange County, and another at county offices in Ventura.
ADAP in Disarray After Contract Switch
California’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) continues to be plagued by problems since changing contractors last summer. ADAP provides medications as well as financial assistance for health coverage to more than 30,000 low-income Californians living with HIV. The state transferred administration of the program to three new contractors last July, but communication between them has been poor and there have been numerous technical glitches. As a result, the ADAP website has been down for more than two months, clients have experienced delays accessing medication, some insurance policies have been cancelled, and it has been difficult for individuals to receive reimbursement for medical expenses.
Together with advocates from across the state, we’ve been meeting with leaders from the California Public Health Department and elected officials to resolve the crisis. Sadly, it’s unclear when the system will be fixed. While clients continue to enroll and maintain eligibility in the program, they should contact an ADAP enrollment worker immediately if they have any difficulties accessing their benefits. For assistance at APLA Health, call 213.201.1615. For questions about the current situation or to report additional problems, you can contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read more about the situation at californiahealthline.org.
A Closer Look at Los Angeles Ballot Measure S
On March 7, Los Angeles residents will vote on Measure S, also known as the “Neighborhood Integrity Initiative,” put forth by the Coalition to Preserve LA and largely underwritten by AIDS Healthcare Foundation. If passed, the initiative would establish a two-year moratorium on building in the city for projects requiring General Plan amendments or zoning and height changes. It would also require General Plan review every five years and prohibit geographic amendments that would significantly change the identities of L.A.’s neighborhoods.
Opposition to the initiative is focused on two issues. First, voters overwhelmingly passed Measure HHH during the general election last November, and Measure S would halt efforts to build those 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing promised by HHH meant to combat homelessness in Los Angeles. Second, many feel Measure S would worsen the housing shortage by making it more difficult for Los Angeles to build on underused sites and would not protect existing affordable housing. Because access to affordable housing is considered critical for people living with HIV and helps in creating better health outcomes, voters should think carefully when voting on this controversial proposition. You can read more about Measure S in the Voter Information Pamphlet (PDF).
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.