The Center for HIV Law and Policy Joins U.S. Supreme Court Brief in Support of Affordable Care Act
Brief filed today in U.S. Supreme Court
Catherine Hanssens, 347.622.1400
Seth M. Marnin, 212.430.6733
New York, January 13, 2012 — Today in the United States Supreme Court, The Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP), a national legal resource and strategy center, joined fifteen other national HIV advocacy organizations in a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as the ACA.
"The ACA is an important step in ensuring fair access to health care that routinely has been denied to many thousands of people affected by HIV," said Catherine Hanssens, Executive Director of CHLP. "Individuals with HIV routinely are excluded from the private insurance market and often are ineligible for government insurance programs. This has a real, and really negative, impact not just on people with HIV, but on community and public health. The ACA is critical to ensuring the availability of health care that saves lives, reduces HIV transmission risks, and saves all of us money in the long-term."
In March of 2010, the ACA was signed into law, reforming aspects of the private health insurance industry and expanding access to health insurance for millions of Americans. The constitutionality of the law was immediately challenged in federal court in multiple jurisdictions; the United States Supreme Court will weigh in on the appeals in these cases this term and has scheduled oral argument for March 2012.
"The ACA is a crucial bridge between the current state of the domestic epidemic and a future that is free from AIDS," said Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director for Lambda Legal. "When Congress enacted the ACA in 2010, only 17% of people living with HIV had private health insurance---a disheartening statistic given the greatly improved health outcomes for people who have access to consistent care. The ACA finally allows us to reap the benefits of the medical breakthroughs made years ago. With continuing prevention education, early detection, and quality care for everyone living with HIV, we have the power to stem the HIV/AIDS epidemic."
In 2006, Massachusetts enacted health care reform legislation similar to the ACA, featuring a minimum coverage requirement and nearly universal access to insurance, including for people with HIV. Between 2005 and 2008, Massachusetts had a 37% decrease in HIV infections while the nation had an 8% increase. Expanded access to health coverage has allowed Massachusetts to focus its federally-subsidized HIV/AIDS programs more on preventive care and related services and less on primary care and the complications associated with an AIDS diagnosis. These changed circumstances in Massachusetts foretell what the nation can expect once the ACA is fully implemented.
In contrast, people living with HIV fare far worse in states that have not adopted health insurance reform or have adopted reform that does not include an individual mandate. Florida, for example, a state challenging the ACA, has seen far worse health outcomes for people living with HIV. In Florida, 20.8% of citizens are uninsured, compared with Massachusetts' rate of 5.6%, the lowest in the nation. Florida's HIV infection rate, 33 of every 100,000 people, is the highest for any state in the nation, and five times that of Massachusetts.
The brief CHLP joined was authored by attorneys with Lambda Legal and the law firm Ropes & Gray. The following organizations also joined the brief: AIDS United, Asian and Pacific-Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS (APICHA), Black AIDS Institute, Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA), Latino Commission on AIDS, National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA), National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), National Native American AIDS Prevention Center (NNAAPC), U.S. Positive Women's Network/WORLD, and Treatment Access Expansion Project (TAEP).
The case is Dep't of HHS v. Florida. To read the brief visit: http://hivlawandpolicy.org/resources/view/690
See Lambda Legal's case page at: www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/dept-of-hhs-v-florida