HIV Patients in Louisiana Turned Away by Obamacare Insurers

Providers take advantage of a guideline loophole to discriminate

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AIDS activists demonstrate outside the International AIDS Conference on July 24, 2012 in Washington, DC.

The three insurance companies in Louisiana that sell healthcare policies under Obamacare are not accepting payments from a government program that provides funds to low-income HIV patients.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana made the decision last year, and now two smaller companies, The Louisiana Health Cooperative and Vantage Health Plan, have followed suit, Reuters reports. On Thursday Lambda Legal, a non-profit group, filed a civil rights complaint against the two smaller companies.

The federally funded Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program provides grants to states and organizations so that low-income HIV patients can get healthcare insurance. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services bar insurance companies from accepting third-party funding for new healthcare plans, in an effort to prevent fraud. Despite the Centers having publicly stated that this policy doesn’t apply to state and federal government programs or grantees, the insurance companies are not backing down.

“Additional carriers are jumping on the discrimination bandwagon,” Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal, told Reuters. “The worst nightmare for people with HIV-AIDS is coming true in Louisiana: they’re being turned away in what’s become a race to the bottom by insurers.”