HRC Blog

Health Care Repeal Fails in the Senate

The following is from HRC’s Senior Public Policy Advocate Andrea Levario:

Last night, Republican leaders in the Senate followed the footsteps of their House counterparts, and pressed for a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the landmark health reform law passed last year. 

This time the effort was not successful, as the vote to bring up the amendment failed 47-51.  All Democratic Senators voted against the measure. As we outlined before, repealing the health insurance reform law will have a detrimental impact on many LGBT Americans.  The ACA eliminates significant barriers to care for people with HIV and AIDS, particularly those on the socioeconomic margins.  For example, the elimination of preexisting condition restrictions will mean more HIV-positive people can obtain care through private insurance; currently only about 20% of people with HIV and AIDS are able to do so, largely because insurance companies refuse them.  In addition, the expansion of Medicaid under the ACA, scheduled to be implemented by 2014, will mean more low-income individuals are able to get into care.  Only about half of all people living with HIV and AIDS have regular, secure access to healthcare -- and without regular care, their quality of life suffers and they are more likely to continue the spread of the virus.  As we all know, HIV prevention, care and treatment programs have long suffered from underfunding. 

The current economic climate has only worsened things.  State AIDS Drug Assistance Plans (ADAPs), a critical source of HIV and AIDS medications for those most in need, are suffering severely, cutting the types of medications they will provide and the number of enrollees they assist.  The ACA institutes some critical reforms, both immediately and in the coming years that will significantly help people with HIV and AIDS. In addition, there are other important provisions that have the potential for helping LGBT people specifically, first, the ACA creates a new, more holistic mandate regarding health data collection and gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) wide latitude to designate additional demographic information that should be solicited in federal health surveys and federal health programs.  We still know alarmingly little about the unique health needs of LGBT people, and this is largely because no one has been asking those questions.  Repeal of the ACA would eliminate this new opportunity, leaving the LGBT community with existing health data mechanisms that have historically left our community out.  In addition, the ACA makes new investments in health disparities, public health, prevention and cultural competency programs -- all of which present similar opportunities to work with HHS to get the LGBT community in on the ground floor.

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