AIDS Czar Commends Demonstration Program
Expanding Medicaid to People with HIV Infection
February 24, 2000
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White House Office of National AIDS Policy Director Sandra L. Thurman commended the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) for awarding a waiver demonstration program to the State of Maine which will allow low-income people with HIV infection to be covered under the Medicaid program. “We anticipate that this program will show that by providing care and treatment for people with HIV in the earlier stages of the disease, we can increase their quality and length of life and save money in the process,” she said. More than 50% of all people with AIDS in the U.S. are on Medicaid, with many of those being from racial and ethnic minority communities. “This waiver will help those most in need of assistance and provide a valuable service to America's most vulnerable populations,” said Ms. Thurman. “The program will help prevent the onset of disease, prevent needless hospitalizations, and delay the onset of disability by making drug therapies and treatment services available to HIV-positive people earlier in their course of disease,” she said.
The demonstration program will allow low-income people with HIV infection to be eligible to have their health care costs covered by Medicaid. Current Medicaid rules state that you must have developed AIDS, not just be infected with HIV, to be eligible for coverage. The cost of treating a person with AIDS is much higher than that of providing medications and services that help delay the onset of AIDS to an HIV positive person.
“Both the Department of Health and Human Services and HCFA are to be applauded for their leadership in honoring the commitment of Vice President Gore to work to expand access to care for people with HIV. This issue is very important to the quality of life of people with HIV who do not otherwise have health insurance. This demonstration project clearly shows how the federal government and state governments working together can be responsive to the needs of their citizens by providing quality access to health care in an effective and efficient manner,” said Ms. Thurman.