June 28, 2012
Kelly Bray, Communications Manager
Lifelong AIDS Alliance firstname.lastname@example.org ph. 206-957-1633
HEALTH CARE IS UPHELD BY THE U.S. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
People living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS and other chronic conditions now have access to expanded healthcare
June 28, 2012 Seattle, WA - This morning, the Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act that was originally passed on March 20. The Affordable Care Act will help ensure Americans have stable and secure health insurance. In Washington State 1.2 million people without healthcare will now be able to achieve physical and mental health outcomes that maximize independence.
Lifelong AIDS Alliance sees the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act as the conclusion of the nation’s 147 year discussion on how to care for the most disenfranchised and vulnerable members of our population. “Freedom and individual rights can only be enjoyed by one if those rights exist for all,” states Randall Russell, Lifelong’s Chief Executive Officer. “ The prosperity of Americans depends upon optimized health of our citizens. Possibilities expand exponentially for our nation as access to healthcare for the nearly 50 million persons across the country without options now are able to function at the highest level.”
“Our most vulnerable populations who live with HIV and other chronic conditions will be able to achieve greatly improved health outcomes through access to physical/mental healthcare and other needed services,” says Russell. “This is the most exciting societal achievement since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
In the past, these disease states have received discretionary and intermittent funding. This care can now be provided as a right instead of a possibility for those living with HIV infection or other chronic conditions.
The combination of a) Medicaid Expansion for the poorest Washingtonians who earn below 133% of the Federal Poverty Line ($14,856 for individuals) with b) the Health Insurance Exchanges’ for the working poor offering sliding scale premiums for those who earn between 133% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Line ($14,856-$44,680 for individuals) results in covering most of those not previously able to access care.
The other provisions of the Affordable Care Act also make it possible to de-silo healthcare approaches to care and prevention services allowing for cost savings. The Supreme Court ruling seems to indicate that individuals may not be required to have healthcare, but in lieu of healthcare a tax will be imposed.
The implementation of healthcare reform in Washington State is well underway and has been used as a national model. The decision related to Medicaid Expansion leaves to individual states as to whether or not to take advantage of the additional provisions included in the Affordable Care Act to provide a critical safety net to the program. Individual states may each determine whether or not to take these additional funds, but if they choose not to do so their existing Medicaid funds may not be withdrawn by the federal government.
Washington State has continued to opt for the Medicaid Expansion and Lifelong will continue to work to support that approach on behalf of people living with HIV or other chronic conditions.
“The implementation of healthcare reform in Washington State will require partnerships, collaborations, and focus on two important factors: improved health outcomes and reduced costs,” says Russell. “We believe this is not only possible, it is necessary to move our economy and long term security to an optimal conclusion. We are ready to partner and collaborate with any and all involved to achieve the best outcomes. “
“While Washington State’s Attorney General joined the federal suit that resulted in today’s positive ruling, we call on our state to adhere to the Supreme Court’s decision and maintain Medicaid Expansion efforts as a critical public health matter,” Russell continues. “ The Washington State Medicaid Program operated by the Health Care Authority and the support of Department of State Health Services have been national leaders in how to maximize the results of the Medicaid Expansion funding. It would be devastating to not take full advantage of this important component for the rural, suburban, and urban centers across our state.”
At the local level, today’s decision is driving a community based response. The Board of Directors of Lifelong AIDS Alliance is committed to address the needs of the community served relevant to the time. Lifelong has served thousands of people living with HIV statewide and protected thousands of others from becoming infected. Recently, the Board addressed Lifelong’s community role based on the needs of people served, and our collective future of a world without HIV/AIDS.
“Lifelong’s relevance to our community requires a broader approach to reach people before they are at risk of HIV infection,” states Michael Godfrey, President of the Board of Directors. “Over the past year, the Board of Directors studied the various elements of the changing landscape of HIV and as a result, we recently have decided to adopt a new mission statement. Given the Supreme Court’s ruling along with guidance to treat everyone who is HIV-positive, we believe we need to expand our reach to protect Washingtonians from HIV infection through a broader array of approaches.” The newly adopted mission statement reads: Lifelong AIDS Alliance empowers people living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS and other chronic conditions to lead healthier lives.
The new mission will allow Lifelong to play an integral role through their nationally recognized “food as medicine” program, Chicken Soup Brigade, as well as to address prevention, linkage to care, care coordination, access to treatment, and reductions in chronic communicable infectious diseases.
About Lifelong AIDS Alliance
Lifelong AIDS Alliance is a non-profit organization that empowers people living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS and other chronic conditions to lead healthier lives. Learn more about Lifelong, and register for one of our upcoming events – the Seattle AIDS Walk or Gay Bingo – at www.llaa.org.