HIV/AIDS: Davis Signs Law Requiring HMOs to Refer Patients to Specialists
California HMOs must ensure that patients with HIV/AIDS receive referrals to doctors who specialize in treating the disease under a bill signed Friday by Gov. Gray Davis (D), the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. Cesar Portillo of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which backed the bill, said, "Anyone who has a relationship with an HMO knows how difficult it is to navigate the system to get a referral to a specialist. For people with HIV, any delay in getting proper care from a specialist can be fatal." He added that HIV and AIDS patients "really do need a specialist to prescribe the right combination of prescriptions ... and to understand the relatively complex tests to find if that particular treatment is helping." Portillo said the bill will help about 20,000 HIV and AIDS patients in HMOs receive "proper care." Bobby Pena, spokesperson for the California Association of Health Plans, said that most of the organization's 36 HMOs already send HIV/AIDS patients to specialists, adding that the bill would not likely increase HMOs' costs (Coleman, 9/16). The bill will serve as a temporary measure until HIV/AIDS caregivers are recognized as specialists. Currently, there is no official HIV/AIDS specialty like there is for other diseases, such as cancer (Lucas/Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/16). The requirement takes effect Jan. 1 (AP/Contra Costa Times, 9/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.