AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts Statement on US Supreme Court Decision Upholding Affordable Care Act
BOSTON, June 28, 2012—Statement by Rebecca Haag, AIDS Action President & CEO on US Supreme Court Decision Upholding Affordable Care Act:
“Today is a victory for everyone in this country who is living with HIV/AIDS. Massachusetts is leading the country in terms of health outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS. Our state is also a leader in declining HIV transmission rates. What we have learned in Massachusetts is that you cannot end the AIDS epidemic if people with HIV/AIDS do not have access to health care. And today’s ruling by the Supreme Court ensures that millions more Americans, including the 1.2 million living with HIV/AIDS, will have greater access to health care than at any other time in our nation’s history.
“In upholding this law, the US Supreme Court has finally closed the door on attempts by health insurance companies to refuse coverage for people who are HIV positive or have a diagnosis of AIDS, and to limit the amount of money an insurer will spend over a patient’s lifetime for treatment.
“Unfortunately, today’s ruling makes expansion of Medicaid programs to lower-income residents an option by states rather than a requirement. We have learned in Massachusetts that Medicaid expansion is a critical component to ending the transmission of HIV, improving health outcomes, and saving public dollars.
“Since the mid-1990s, Massachusetts has provided health care to poor people living with HIV through its Medicaid program. And since 2006, thanks to the Massachusetts health reform law, nearly everyone in the state is now covered with health insurance. As a result, people living with HIV/AIDS have access to the care they need to stay healthy and keep their HIV viral load low, which helps to reduce the transmission of HIV. Since 1999, we have reduced the rate of HIV transmission by 54 percent, which will save the state more than $2 billion in health care costs.
“In light of these state-by-state inequities in coverage, we call on Congress to continue funding the Ryan White Care Act to ensure that as many people living with HIV/AIDS as possible have access to the health care they need and deserve.
“We have the knowledge and tools to eradicate AIDS in this country, and we are on the cusp of doing so. Today’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court is a momentous step forward in ensuring that this vital work gets done. It is now up to our elected representatives to fully implement the law.”
AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is the state’s leading provider of prevention and wellness services for people vulnerable to HIV infection. It provides services to one in six people in Massachusetts living with an HIV diagnosis. These services include HIV counseling and testing; needle exchange; mental health counseling; housing assistance; and legal services. AIDS Action works to prevent new HIV infections, support those affected by HIV, and tackle the root causes of HIV/AIDS by educating the public and health professionals about HIV prevention and care; and advocating for fair and effective HIV/AIDS policy at the city, state, and federal levels. Founded in 1983, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is New England’s first and largest AIDS service organization. Learn more at www.aac.org.