“The AIDS Community Must Band Together”

By Rob Banaszak on April 5, 2012 in Access2Care

By Doug Wirth, Amida Care, NY, NY

Day 1 of AU’s Positive Charge Spring convening was filled with information/ideas for improving access and HIV care.

The health care reform session highlighted: 1) how private insurers restrict coverage due to pre-existing conditions and/or make it too costly; 2) how we’ve missed opportunities to engage people early, foster wellness and prevent new HIV infections due to a health care system (Medicaid/Medicare) that requires people to become sick/disable before care is made readily available; and 3) the reality that neither discretionary funding (Ryan White) nor the status quo (repeal ACA) will address the public health and care crisis of our time. Thankfully, facilitators Anne Donnelly (Project Inform) and Amy Killelea (Harvard Law School) lead PC/SIF grantees in a solution-focused, readiness review that frankly challenged all of us to get “in-action” at the State-level. ACT NOW to ensure State Exchanges plan for the needs of PLWH, ensure HIV providers are in managed care networks, and help design consumer education to minimize care interruptions and help PLWH navigate change. “Don’t wait to be invited in,” exclaimed Anne and Amy, “Get iLogo - Access to Caren there and make the cost-effectiveness argument” to State Legislatures and Exchange Boards. The session ended with a good dose of reality – nobody is going to save us. With Medicaid expansions on the horizon; consumers, providers and advocates need to engage in making Medicaid managed care work for PLWH.

Perhaps now more than ever, the AIDS community must band together to maximize resources for care and services to PLWH. This will require ongoing quality improvement to ensure funding for effective interventions and collaboration. It was fitting that the afternoon was spent discussing both. I’m struck by the dedication, wisdom and creativity of our PC/SIF colleagues from Massachusetts, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Durham (NC), San Francisco/Oakland, Louisiana, Montgomery (AL), St. Louis (MO), New York and Washington, DC.

Thanks AIDS United, BMS and Wal-Mart for helping lead the way!

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