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Senate Gives a Thumbs-up for Early Treatment Access

Senate Gives a Thumbs-up for Early Treatment Access


The Senate passed an amendment to a budget reconciliation bill in November that includes $450 million to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income HIV-positive people who have not yet developed AIDS. Medicaid now provides anti-HIV drugs only to enrollees who have progressed to an AIDS diagnosis. The amendment by the Senate'which is similar to the Early Treatment for HIV Act legislation, which has been discussed by lawmakers since 2003 but was never voted on'would allow state-run Medicaid programs to offer the drugs to enrollees before they become sick. Advocates say this ultimately will reduce Medicaid costs by keeping HIVers healthy longer and cutting down on hospitalizations and emergency room visits. A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers has also found that early treatment could reduce the death rate for HIV-positive Medicaid participants by 60%.

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