BONO RALLIES CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORT FOR EARLY TREATMENT FOR HIV ACT
As low-income Americans who become diagnosed with HIV are often prevented from receiving Medicaid provided care and treatment until having been disabled by AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), Congresswoman Mary Bono (CA-45) has called upon her colleagues in Congress to support the Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA).
"Americans who have been stricken with HIV must have improved access to life-saving services and treatments," expressed Bono. "States must be empowered to exercise options that can successfully address the HIV/AIDS crisis in their jurisdictions - developing AIDS in order to become eligible for Medicaid is a flawed system."
On May 3, Bono partnered with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18) and Congressmen Christopher Shays (CT-4) and Thaddeus McCotter (MI-11) in circulating a Dear Colleague letter to Members of the House of Representatives. The letter stresses that many insured poor and low-income Americans still do not have access to life-saving medications because they have not yet been diagnosed with AIDS.
"On behalf of the 2,200 people living with HIV or AIDS we serve, and the countless undiagnosed and untreated individuals whose lives this legislation will impact, Desert AIDS Project greatly welcomes Congresswoman Mary Bono's support of the Early Treatment for HIV Act," said Executive Director of Desert AIDS Project, David Brinkman. "Early treatment for HIV greatly increases survival rates and reduces costly care associated with advanced AIDS. Moreover, the assurance of access to care immediately after diagnosis will allay some of the fears associated with learning one's status."
In the Senate, the Early Treatment for HIV Act of 2007 that was introduced by Sen. Gordon Smith (D-OR), if approved, will amend title XIX (Medicaid) of the Social Security Act to give states the option of providing Medicaid coverage for certain low-income HIV-infected individuals. It will also provide states taking advantage of this option with an enhanced federal Medicaid match.
"Since this epidemic was first identified, the treatment options and care services that are now available to Americans are helping those diagnosed with HIV to live longer and healthier lives," added Bono. "As seen with the recent reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act, Congress has signaled its commitment to ensure assistance for those living with HIV/AIDS. I look forward to working with my colleagues so that states are given the flexibility they need to fight this epidemic."
Medicaid serves as a program sponsored by the federal government and administered by states that is intended to provide health care and health-related services to low-income individuals.