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The Affordable Care Act: Our Second Most Important Tool for Combating HIV and Ending AIDS

As the nation turns its eyes toward the Supreme Court and its review of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”) this coming week, people living with HIV and their advocates will be among those watching carefully and most anxiously awaiting the outcome. For many of the approximately 1.2 million people with HIV in this country, the Court’s decisions will directly affect access to quality care and life-saving treatment. Though not by any means the only group with a great deal at stake here, those affected by HIV present an exceptionally strong example of the positive impact the ACA will have, and a particularly compelling argument for the statute’s constitutionality.

People living with HIV have been systematically excluded from the health-care insurance and health-care markets. Only 17 percent of people living with HIV have private health insurance, compared with 67 percent of the general population. While some of the remaining 83 percent have insurance through public programs (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, etc.), nearly 30 percent are forced to rely exclusively upon the often spotty benefits provided through the overburdened and underfunded Ryan White programs, or to go without care altogether…
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