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'Routine HIV Screening Coverage Act' (Waters, D, CA) a 'Crucial Linchpin to Health Care Reform,' says AHF
Date:4/29/2009

Bill Would Require Health Insurance Plans to Cover Routine HIV Tests Under the Same Terms as Other Routine Health Screenings. Legislation Could Spur Nationwide Compliance with CDC's 2006 HIV Testing Guidelines Recommending HIV Testing of All those 13-64 in Routine Health Settings

WASHINGTON, April 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider in the US which currently provides treatment, care and support services to more than 100,000 individuals in 21 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia, today commended Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D, CA 35th) for reintroducing a bill to require health insurance plans to cover routine HIV tests under the same terms and conditions as other routine health screenings. The bill, which is known as the Routine HIV Screening Coverage Act, had been previously introduced by Waters (as H.R. 822) during the 110th Congress; however, action on the bill was not completed prior to adjournment.

"The 'Routine HIV Screening Coverage Act' seeks to address a major disconnect between a straightforward and prudent public health measure set forth by the CDC back in 2006 and the bureaucratic buck passing by the nation's health care insurers that has happened since then," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "Nearly three years after the CDC first recommended the routine testing of all individuals ages 13-64 in all routine healthcare settings such as community clinics and emergency units, we are nowhere near compliance with our own government guidelines. Meanwhile, estimates of new US HIV cases have risen from 40,000 annually to more than 56,000 annually. By requiring insurer coverage of routine HIV screening, this bill should go a long way in helping to break the chain of new infections by making HIV testing -- and linkage to treatment, when needed -- far more readily available. We applaud Congresswoman Waters for reintroducing and carrying this lifesaving public health measure."

"The 2006 CDC guidelines for HIV testing have been largely ignored nationwide due in no small measure to the unanswered question as to who actually covers the costs of such routine screening," said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Director of the AHF's Public Health Division. "By requiring health insurance plans to cover routine HIV tests under the same terms as other routine health screenings, Congresswoman Waters' bill should help spur compliance with the CDC's guidelines. The only way to truly get control of HIV in this country is for people to know their status and for conversations about sexual health to become part of our national vocabulary. This step will remove a significant and pervasive barrier to HIV testing. It is necessary, it is way past time, and the health and wellbeing of nation is worth it."

"Insurance coverage of such routine testing is a crucial linchpin to effective national health care policy and is key to any real health care reform," added Weinstein. "From the beginning, Congresswoman Waters' leadership on this issue has been clear and consistent, and her vision is especially critical now in light of President Obama's recently announced goals to focus resources on prevention to both improve the quality of heath care while reducing costs of such care."

About AHF

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the nation's largest non-profit HIV/AIDS organization. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 100,000 individuals in 21 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia. Additional information is available at www.aidshealth.org.


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SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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