The Corner

HIV/AIDS Patients May Get Shut Out of Obamacare Exchanges

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has begun notifying hundreds of residents in the state with HIV/AIDS that they are at risk of losing their plans obtained through Obamacare’s exchanges if they used funds from a program that provides financial aid to people with the disease to pay for the plans. Starting next month, payments received from the Ryan White program, the largest federally funded program for people with HIV/AIDS, will not be accepted by the insurance provider, according to Reuters.

The decision comes just a few months after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cited potential fraud risks from using third-party payments for plans on the health-care law’s exchanges. While CMS did not specifically cite Ryan White funds, BCBS Louisiana told supporters of Obamacare that they would not be able to take payments from the program.

But HIV/AIDS advocates see an incentive for BCBS Louisiana to refuse Ryan White payments as a way to not take on the costs associated with people suffering from the disease. The vice president of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago told the news service that it “sure looks to us like discrimination against sick people.” BCBS Louisiana denied such charges.

“We welcome all Louisiana residents who chose Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana,” a spokesman said.

Louisiana is not alone, according to a CMS official; Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota has also looked to restrict payments through the Ryan White program for Obamacare plans, but is reviewing its process.

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