Letters to the Editor: Florida’s Lack of Coordination With Obamacare Hurting HIV Positive People

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I wanted to bring attention to the fact that while millions of people across the country are being enrolled in affordable health insurance plans there is a systematic effort underway in and by the State of Florida to discriminate against a segment of the population most in need and largely affecting the GLBTQ community.

I am a gay HIV positive male currently enrolled in the Ryan-White program. While I am grateful for what this program offers to me it does not provide comprehensive health care coverage. For example almost all non-HIV related services are not covered by Ryan-White and even HIV related ER or Inpatient services are not covered.

For example I fell off my bicycle and was injured enough to be taken by ambulance to the ER. My $14,000 plus bill was not covered and remains unpaid. Several months later I was admitted through the ER for a 3 day staff with a non-HIV related diagnosis. That $28,000 bill was also not covered and remains unpaid. Medications that I need to stay healthy and out of the hospital for that diagnosis are also not covered. When I stop taking those medications I get sick again and could end up back in the hospital.

I've been trying to get enrolled through the Marketplace like everyone else but since I have no little to no incomes would need assistance in paying the premiums and other out of pocket costs. The State Department of Health who is responsible for the ADAP and AICP program (pays premiums and out of pocket expenses for qualified enrollees) have made no movement to date with providing that assistance to those of us who cannot afford the out of pocket costs. Instead they point us back to the Ryan-White program for basic HIV only outpatient and drugs. As I stated that is not enough.

I recently was able to get assistance with enrolling into an individual health plan which was going to be purchased off the Marketplace and would therefore qualify for the AICP program. When I went in today to complete the paperwork I was advised that the State Department of Health would no longer accept applications for the AICP program for individual policies off the Marketplace although they have been providing this type off assistance for quite some time. Again I was referred back to the Ryan White program for care although as I stated is not a comprehensive plan.

The government of the State of Florida continues to openly discriminate against those of us with HIV/AIDS who do not have the resources to get the same comprehensive health coverage afforded everyone else across the country. We are discriminated against by not expanding Medicaid, discriminated against by not assisting with Marketplace enrollment and costs and now by systematically denying assistance through eliminating help to those able to enroll in Individually purchased health plans by no longer accepting those enrollment a in the AICP program.

The end of Marketplace enrollment is a few short weeks away. How many of us will be sick or die because the State is refusing to care? How many will die? Do they even understand that they save money - BIG MONEY - by allowing enrollment into health plans by shifting all those medical costs to the plans? Who pays the bill now, including the $40,000 I've incurred the past few months - TAXPAYERS.

People everywhere should know and be outraged.


Robert B. Ettinger

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