MA MEDICAID: Extends Benefits to Low-Income HIV Patients
The Massachusetts Legislature set a "national precedent" Wednesday when it approved the state's budget with a $10 million provision to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income, HIV-positive residents, the Boston Globe reports (Crowley, Boston Globe, 11/11). Under the measure, 2,000 HIV-positive state residents who have not yet developed full-blown AIDS will qualify for comprehensive health care benefits. Currently, states require that those with HIV must progress to full-blown AIDS before qualifying for Medicaid, despite research indicating early HIV treatment saves medical costs. Larry Kessler, executive director of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, said, "This is a win-win for everybody. Poor people with HIV can now get the treatment they need before becoming seriously ill, and the Commonwealth will save millions in unnecessary treatment costs." If Gov. Paul Cellucci (R) signs the proposed expansion, HIV-positive individuals with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level will immediately qualify for primary care, diagnostic services, prescription drug coverage, substance abuse treatment programs and mental health care through Medicaid. Funding for the expansion will come from the state's tobacco settlement (AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts release, 11/10).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.