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June 2009
Vol. 19 No. 6
Policy and Advocacy
HIVMA Supports Public Plan Option for Health Care Reform

The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) strongly supports a public plan option as part of any effort to reform the nation’s health care system. Earlier this month, as lawmakers in Washington began drafting legislation, HIVMA issued a position statement outlining why such an insurance option is so important for HIV patients, nearly 30 percent of whom have no insurance. The public plan option would help ensure that those living with HIV across the country have affordable access to comprehensive, cost-effective and lifesaving care and treatment. HIVMA expressed concern that private insurers will discourage HIV patients from enrolling in private plans by excluding HIV clinicians and programs from their provider networks. HIVMA also issued a set of health care reform principles for meeting the needs of HIV patients. As part of comprehensive health care reform legislation, IDSA has also advocated for the adoption of Medicare coverage of home-based antimicrobial infusion services, a fix to the “sustainable growth rate” (SGR) formula for physician payments, the establishment of accountable care organizations that provide incentives for ID physicians to meet infection control benchmarks, increased immunization coverage, and a strengthened public health infrastructure.

Other IDSA advocacy items include:

  • HIVMA released a joint statement on the HIV medical workforce with the American Academy of HIV Medicine and unveiled recommendations for ensuring a robust HIV medical workforce during a congressional briefing earlier this month.
  • IDSA and several other public health organizations applauded the introduction of a bill in Congress that would create new incentives for the recruitment and retention of public health professionals. The Public Health Workforce Development Act of 2009 (S. 1143/H.R. 2620) would create scholarship and loan repayment programs for public health practitioners who agree to serve for a specified amount of time in a public health setting. A letter of support was sent to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), who introduced the legislation.
  • The Connecticut Legislature passed a bill in early June prohibiting state licensing boards from disciplining physicians who prescribe long-term antibiotic therapy in treating Lyme disease. IDSA had opposed the legislation, which the governor signed into law June 21. Also in June, IDSA sent a letter to all members of the House of Representatives opposing the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Prevention, Education, and Research Act (H.R. 1179), legislation that would encourage public health policy to be based on views not based on scientific evidence. For more information about IDSA’s July 30 hearing on Lyme disease practice guidelines, see this related story.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has asked the Obama administration to weigh in regarding a Georgia case that could threaten the federal no-fault vaccine injury compensation system. The Georgia Supreme Court decision would allow cases alleging injury from childhood vaccines to be decided by state juries, circumventing the federal system. Earlier this year, IDSA and several other groups signed on to a “friends of the court” brief from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Georgia decision. The court still has to decide whether to hear the case.
  • The American Medical Association’s House of Delegates adopted a report at its annual meeting earlier this month that incorporated IDSA’s concerns about bundling health care providers’ payments, a key health care reform proposal that is being considered by the Obama administration and Congress. The AMA report was developed in part as a response to an earlier resolution IDSA submitted that called on the AMA to work with public and private groups to ensure that bundled payment reforms do not result in hospital-controlled payments. IDSA also sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee in April outlining concerns about bundled provider payments as part of efforts to reform the nation’s health care system.

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