A victory by Sen. Hillary Clinton in next year's presidential election could be good news for HIVers, particularly those struggling to pay for medical care.
In September, Clinton proposed a universal health care plan that would require all Americans to be insured--and would offer several coverage options, including keeping one's current plan, access to a plan offered to federal employees, or enrollment in a Medicare-like program. Large companies would help pay for their workers' insurance, while small businesses and individuals would be offered tax breaks and federal subsidies to purchase coverage.
The plan could be a much-needed lifeline for uninsured HIVers who cannot afford private insurance--or who have been denied private coverage, according to HIV care experts.
'We are hopeful but cautious,' says AIDS Project Los Angeles director of government affairs Phil Curtis, noting that the agency is awaiting more details of Clinton's plan before endorsing it. But Curtis warns that any attempts at health care reform 'must preserve the existing safety-net coverage of public programs that provide lifesaving care to those living with HIV,' including Medicare, Medicaid, and programs funded through the federal Ryan White Act.
Not surprisingly, Clinton's Republican opponents pounced on her proposal, especially its $110 billion annual price tag and its reliance on a rollback of President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to help pay for it.
'If you liked Michael Moore's Sicko, you're going to love HillaryCare 2.0,' Republican front-runner and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said in a statement, with the '2.0' referring to Clinton's failed 1993 effort to overhaul the nation's health care system during her husband's first year of presidency.
Despite having introduced a similar statewide program while governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney also lambasted Clinton's proposal, calling it 'Washington-managed care' and inspired by 'European bureaucracies.'
Neither Romney nor Giuliani has offered health care proposals that would provide insurance to every U.S. citizen.