San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Endorses Measure to Extend Medi-Cal Coverage to HIV-Positive Individuals
A bill (AB 2197) that would extend Medi-Cal coverage to low-income California residents who are HIV-positive but who have not yet been diagnosed with AIDS demonstrates "compassion and fiscal prudence," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial states (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/18). Under the bill, beneficiaries must be HIV-positive and enrolled in the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program to qualify for Medi-Cal coverage (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/1). Restricting Medi-Cal coverage to people diagnosed with AIDS "amount[s] to a false economy" because treating HIV-positive individuals early on in the disease helps delay the onset of AIDS, when health care costs "rise exponentially," and also helps keep HIV-positive people "healthy and working [and] thus paying taxes." The measure also guarantees that extending such coverage will not come at a large cost to the state because it requires the state Health Department to "encourage" Medi-Cal beneficiaries who have AIDS to switch voluntarily from fee-for-service to managed care coverage. The savings of the lowered costs of treating individuals with AIDS-related conditions could be allocated to expanding treatment to people "in the early stages" of HIV infection, the editorial states. The editorial urges state senators to pass the bill and for Gov. Gray Davis (D) to sign it (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.