MEDICAID: Mass. Gov. Wants to Extend Coverage to HIV+
Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci (R) has proposed a groundbreaking, $10 million expansion of the state's Medicaid program to cover health care for poor, working HIV-positive individuals "almost as soon as they test HIV positive." The coverage would be funded by the state's tobacco settlement. In Medicaid programs across the country, HIV-positive beneficiaries are only eligible for treatment after progressing to full-blown AIDS, a policy activists have decried as shortsighted and callous. Under Cellucci's proposal, up to 2,000 people would be eligible for comprehensive health benefits under the state's Medicaid plan, MassHealth, if they had incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level, which translates into $16,000 for a single person and $32,000 for a family of four. The governor's FY 2000 budget provides funding for the expansion; the state Division of Medical Assistance is discussing the expansion with HCFA, which would have to approve it. Robert Greenwald of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts said the move would encourage early testing and treatment for those at high-risk for HIV. "This will be one of the most significant advances that Massachusetts has made in terms of addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic," he said, adding, "This will give early intervention and access, and hopefully [HIV] will not progress, ever, to AIDS." AIDS Action is lobbying state legislators to approve the proposal, and to boost the health department's HIV/AIDS budget by $2.6 million to $54.2 million (Kong, Boston Globe, 3/4).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.