Newspapers Urge California Governor to Sign Bill Extending Medi-Cal Eligibility to People With HIV Who Have Not Developed AIDS
The Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Examiner and the San Jose Mercury News this week urged California Gov. Gray Davis (D) to sign a bill (AB 2197) that would extend Medi-Cal -- California's Medicaid program -- eligibility to HIV-positive individuals who have not yet developed AIDS and do not have other means of insurance. Under current state law, only people who have been diagnosed with AIDS are eligible for Medi-Cal benefits (AHF release, 9/10). The Times states that "[b]y giving patients access to drugs and care otherwise unavailable," the bill, which was written so as not to require additional state spending, "would extend their lives and on-the-job productivity (Los Angeles Times, 9/10). The Examiner says that although Davis has until the end of the month to sign the bill, "[t]here's no reason to wait," adding, "Backers estimate that 10,000 people ... currently need such comprehensive healthcare. They are the ones who have fallen through the safety nets, the Catch-22 of state and federal medical policies" (San Francisco Examiner, 9/10). The Mercury News states that the bill would keep costs at a minimum "while helping thousands of people to live longer, more productive lives (San Jose Mercury News, 9/10). Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, welcomed the endorsements, saying, "Today, Californians who are HIV-positive have to become sick and develop full-blown AIDS in order to get treatment under Medi-Cal, when earlier intervention could have ke[pt] them healthy and productive. For years, we've been trying to change that nonsensical rule and we are grateful that both the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News today have endorsed this life-saving legislation. We urge Gov. Davis to do the right thing and sign AB 2197." The San Francisco Chronicle and San Diego Union-Tribune have also endorsed the bill (AHF release, 9/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.