Massachusetts Wins HHS Approval for Expanded HIV Treatment Under Medicaid
Massachusetts won HHS approval last week to expand Medicaid coverage for HIV-positive individuals, the Boston Herald reports. HIV-positive Medicaid beneficiaries traditionally qualify only for "basic" HIV treatment, while those who have full-blown AIDS are eligible for more "comprehensive" care. The new waiver "essentially lift[s] restrictions on life-extending drug cocktails and other aggressive care for low-income" HIV-positive individuals who have not been diagnosed with AIDS. Gov. Paul Cellucci (R) has earmarked more than $13 million in additional state funding in anticipation of the waiver's approval, but this funding is still pending approval by the state's Legislature. Massachusetts state officials have "long sought" this expansion of Medicaid services; Cellucci submitted a waiver proposal last year, but it was not approved. This year's approval was announced last week by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who said the expanded coverage would "immediately" be available to more than 1,000 HIV-positive Massachusetts residents. To be eligible for the expanded services, individuals must have an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level -- $16,704 for an individual or $32,064 for a family of four. Applications for the new program will be accepted in April. Massachusetts is the second state, after Maine, to receive approval for a waiver that allows HIV-positive individuals to be eligible for Medicaid (Macero, Boston Herald, 1/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.