Ending HIV: A missing piece in the health-care debate

published on March 4, 2016 by Mike Ludwig in Truthout

For the Republican presidential candidates, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a sort of collective punching bag. Every single candidate wants a repeal of the health-care law, which was a stinging victory for President Obama and the Democrats. Donald Trump would replace it with something vague and “terrific.” Sen. Ted Cruz essentially foreshadowed his candidacy by shutting down the government over the ACA. Sen. Marco Rubio has called it “fatally flawed.”

A single-payer system could have further benefits for people living with HIV. Under Canada’s single-payer system, for example, the province of British Columbia has decided to pay for all HIV medications, and seeing a doctor is free, according to M-J Milloy, a research scientist at the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

“[Getting HIV] medication is simply a conversation between you and your doctor,” Milloy said. “It’s really distressing when us scientists hear of these places where there are still these economic and financial barriers to HIV medication because we are hearing more and more everyday that the way to end AIDS is to provide the medicine.”

That’s exactly why advocates like Farrow are so frustrated by Republican efforts to block the ACA’s Medicaid expansion at the state level by refusing to expand the minimum Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of the federal poverty line and accepting the federal dollars that come with it. Many of the 16 states that have so far failed to expand Medicaid rolls also have high rates of poverty and large numbers of people living with HIV and AIDS.

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