Davis Must Sign Bill to Guarantee ‘Reasonable Care’ for Those With HIV, Editorial States
California Gov. Gray Davis (D) has until Oct. 14 to sign AB 937, a bill that "aims to guarantee reasonable care for HIV patients by providing reasonable pay for doctors who treat them," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial states. But the bill has "languished" on Davis' desk since Sept. 13 when it left the Legislature, where it passed both houses by "wide margins," the editorial continues. The bill would require HMOs to reimburse HIV specialists "at a rate that doesn't restrict patient's access to care," the editorial states, adding that most HMOs currently employ a "capitation" scheme that pays doctors about $80 a month per HIV patient, an amount that is meant to cover specialist fees, emergency room and hospital care and sometimes prescription drugs. The bill would also require Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, to create "risk-adjusted rates for HIV treatment similar to the one it has for AIDS care," the editorial continues. According to Assembly member Paul Koretz (D), who drafted the bill, "[T]he lack of timely access, referrals and low reimbursement rates ... nearly have bankrupted the limited number of California physicians who continue to treat HIV/AIDS patients." The insurance lobby has "[p]redictably" opposed the measure, "vehemently rejecting any option requiring the industry to increase payments," the editorial states. "But AB 937 is a no-nonsense, life-and-death measure of both our humanity and commitment to fight this dreaded disease," and as such should be signed, the editorial concludes (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.