This civil rights complaint was filed by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. (Lambda Legal) and AIDSLaw of Louisiana to challenge a decision by BlueCross BlueShield of Louisiana (BCBS) to stop accepting federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) third-party premium subsidies for qualified low-income individuals living with HIV. Under RWHAP, the federal government makes “grants to states, cities, and nonprofit organizations to provide premium subsidies, treatment and medication to people with HIV who have no alternative sources for coverage.” Because BCBS stopped accepting RWHAP premium subsidies, many policyholders with HIV can no longer afford their BCBS premiums and may lose their health insurance entirely. Further, since BCBS refuses to accept RWHAP premium subsidies from new enrollees, eligible low-income Louisianans with HIV are effectively blocked from enrolling in BCBS plans.
The complaint alleges that there is no known legitimate explanation for BCBS to refuse to accept RWHAP subsidies, and in fact it appears that the only reason is “an unlawful and discriminatory one – to keep people with HIV from BCBS’s rolls.” The complaint further states that for this reason, the BCBS decision violates the non-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Lambda Legal and AIDSLaw of Louisiana asked the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights to review the allegations in the complaint and to address BCBS’s discriminatory conduct.