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Pelosi Statement on Reintroduction of the Early Treatment for HIV Act
Date:3/20/2009

WASHINGTON, March 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), reintroduced the Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA) this week with a bipartisan group of 44 original co-sponsors. Speaker Pelosi released the following statement:

"Effective drug treatments have improved both health and quality of life for thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS. However, many uninsured, low-income HIV-positive individuals still do not have access to these life-saving medications because they generally do not meet Medicaid requirements until becoming disabled by full-blown AIDS.

"Forcing people with HIV to wait for health care until their immune system is compromised by AIDS is bad health policy. The Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA) eliminates this harmful gap in the safety net.

"This change in Medicaid eligibility is long overdue. Studies show that passage of ETHA would not only significantly improve the health of people living with HIV, but also would reduce long-term healthcare costs as people stay healthy and active.

"Many of us in Congress have been working for years to enact this needed change. Given President Obama's support for expanded Medicaid coverage for people living with HIV, support from key health leaders in Congress, including Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman and Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chair Frank Pallone, and a strong bipartisan list of original co-sponsors, our prospects for success have never been greater."

Background

ETHA gives states the option of allowing low-income individuals living with HIV to qualify for Medicaid coverage when they are diagnosed, rather than making them wait until they progress to full-blown AIDS. This approach is modeled on the successful Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment and Prevention Act of 2000, which allows states to provide early access to Medicaid for women with breast and cervical cancer.


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SOURCE Office of the Speaker of the House
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