Landmark Supreme Court Ruling on Affordable Care Act Underscores the Importance of the Ryan White Program for Ohioans Living with HIV

 

When President Obama revealed the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in July of 2010, he stated “The question is not whether we know what to do, but whether we will do it.  Whether we will fulfill those obligations; whether we marshal our resources and our political will to confront a tragedy that is preventable,”

He was right.  We do know what to do.  It has been proven time and time again that access to ongoing HIV care not only keeps HIV positive individuals healthy, but also reduces the risk of transmission to others.  Access to consistent health care is critical in our pursuit of an HIV free generation.

That is why the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act today is such a victory for all of us with this shared vision.  It promises affordable care to millions, care that was previously unavailable because of pre-existing conditions like HIV, unrealistic because of absurd costs, or unreliable because of annual care caps as well as lifetime coverage limits.  It promises us a realistic opportunity to stop HIV/AIDS in its track by connecting people to care and providing them the access that they need and deserve.

Medical cost and health insurance has traditionally been an intimidating barrier between those that are HIV positive and the advances in medical technology that have transformed HIV/AIDS from what used to be a near death sentence into a long-term chronic manageable disease that can be treated with access to optimal medical care and treatment, allowing individuals to live long, empowered, and productive lives.

Today’s decision also highlights the importance of the continued funding of the Ryan White CARE Act as we transition into health care reform.  The Ryan White Act has shouldered much of the burden that the health care system refused to, and Ryan White funded programs will continue to do so moving forward.  Our politicians and policy makers must recognize the ongoing and particular importance of Ryan White funding during this pivotal time.

Though today’s ruling was a significant victory, we must continue to educate people affected by HIV about how the Affordable Care Act will affect their access to quality life-saving HIV treatment, care, and prevention.  As citizens we must be accurately informed about what this law means for us, as well as our community.  Ohio AIDS Coalition, a division of AIDS Resource Center Ohio, remains committed to educating and informing our communities as the implications of the ruling unfold.  It is still unclear as to how Medicaid expansion will affect state programs and people living with HIV/AIDS, so OAC’s upcoming voter education brief will highlight many of these implications.

It is also important that we CELEBRATE our victories, today’s ruling being one of them, for us as well as for those that should have had this care long ago.  It signifies another stride forward in our communities and as a nation towards an HIV free future.

National HIV Testing Day

National HIV Testing Day

            Take the Test—Take Control!

 

It’s estimated that as many as one in five people that have HIV/AIDS and are unaware of it.  It’s hard to protect yourself and others when you don’t know your status.  This fact contributes to more than 50,000 new cases of HIV/AIDS that the U.S. sees every year, and with over one million people living with HIV/AIDS, it’s more important now than ever that YOU know your status.

National HIV Testing Day on June 27th is significant to the fight against the epidemic.  Knowing your status is empowerment.  If you are HIV negative, you can work on remaining that way with healthy practices like safe sex, knowing your partner’s status, using clean needles, and becoming informed about HIV transmission modes.

If you’re HIV positive, you have options.  You can join more than one million Americans in the fight to stay healthy, to protect others, and to live a full and empowered life by getting connected to care through organizations such as the Ohio AIDS Coalition and AIDS Resource Center Ohio.

The first step is to know your status.  There are some great resources out there, and you can find a testing site near you by visiting http://hivtest.cdc.gov/Default.aspx, or by calling the Ohio HIV/AIDS/STD Hotline at 800-332-2437.

Wherever and however you get tested, knowing if you are HIV positive early helps you to take full advantage of treatment options that will maximize health benefits.  One in three people testing positive for HIV tested too late to take full advantage of these life-saving treatment options.  Early HIV testing also reduces the spread of the disease, prolongs life expectancy, and reduces the cost of care, so get tested!

 

Everyone needs to know their HIV status.  Be invested and get tested on National HIV Testing Day this June 27th.  You owe it to your community, your loved ones, and above all yourself.

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JCARR Rule Change Hearing Information: Take Action, Let Your Voice Be Heard!

The Ohio Department of Health Director has proposed allowing the use of medical criteria to prioritize getting medications to the sickest and most medically-vulnerable individuals, if Ohio ever has another “waiting list” for OHDAP assistance (no waiting list currently exists).  The proposed revision also requires the ODH Director to give “thirty-day notice to affected clients” if insufficient funds require the restriction, reduction, or elimination of existing programs.

JCARR will review the proposed amendment at a hearing scheduled on June 11, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. at the Ohio Statehouse Hearing Room 121 (William McKinley Room). Participation through oral or written testimony provides a unique and limited opportunity to make a difference by letting your voice be heard.

If you are interested in presenting either written or oral testimony at the JCARR ‘Rule Change’ hearing please contact Bill Arnold at 1-800-226-5554 for more information.