'On HIV and AIDS, Congress handed over authority to extremists with the potential to harm thousands of Americans,' said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.
WASHINGTON - This morning in a vote of 50 to 50, with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the tie-breaking vote, the U.S. Senate approved the budget reconciliation conference report containing billions in cuts to Medicaid that put at risk the lives of hundred of thousands of Americans living with HIV/AIDS however, due to a Democratic point of order, the conference report will now be sent back to the House of Representatives. The budget package permits new premiums and deductibles, and higher cost-sharing on Medicaid beneficiaries who already find themselves on the edge of being able to seek quality care and treatment for their HIV/AIDS. Medicaid is the nation's largest payer of HIV/AIDS care.
"On HIV and AIDS, Congress handed over authority to extremists with the potential to harm thousands of Americans," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese."It is unacceptable to pull the rug out from under hundreds of thousands of our neighbors living with HIV/AIDS and simply say your government is not there for you. We should be focusing on ways to improve these programs, not shoving them onto the cutting room floor."
A provision in the Senate's version of the reconciliation bill was stripped out in conference that would have given some states the option to extend Medicaid coverage through a demonstration program to childless adults with HIV who are currently ineligible for Medicaid until they develop AIDS.
Currently, the law requires that all Medicaid beneficiaries be treated fairly and have access to all of the medically necessary Medicaid services their state provides. The budget reconciliation package changes current law to provide new "flexibility" to states by allowing states to discriminate against groups of Medicaid beneficiaries. States will now be allowed to provide more services to some beneficiaries than others, based on political or arbitrary considerations - instead of relying on the professional judgments of health care providers about the necessity of Medicaid services.
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
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