Friday, December 1, 2017

A World AIDS Day Message to President Donald J. Trump

By: Brandon M. Macsata, CEO, ADAP Advocacy Association

It has been less than one year since Donald J. Trump was sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States. In that short period of time, Trump has wreaked havoc in the hearts and minds of the people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States because he has continually demonstrated a flagrant disregard for the public health system designed to help them. The hashtag #SaveOurCare has come to symbolize the very real concerns felt by people living with HIV/AIDS (and many others) in this country. However, World AIDS Day provides a unique opportunity to send a stern message to him that it will not be tolerated by the 1.1 million people in the United States living with HIV/AIDS.

President Donald J. Trump
Photo Source: businessinsider.com

Aside from the insistence on repealing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare (which certainly has its share of problems), Trump has sought to undermine the marketplace exchanges. These exchanges have proved vitally important to people living with HIV/AIDS by linking them to health insurance purchased via the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), as well as other means. Aside from being more cost effective than direct purchase options, it also affords people living with HIV/AIDS more supports and services. Why would he want to take that away from us?

At numerous times during the debate over the healthcare law, it was even suggested that the protections for pre-existing conditions be rolled back to the pre-Obamacare era. This would probably be one of the single most detrimental changes in healthcare-related public policy for this already underserved population. According to HIV.gov, "Insurers also are prohibited from cancelling or rescinding coverage because of mistakes made on an application, and can no longer impose lifetime caps on insurance benefits."[1] People living with HIV/AIDS already face a disproportionate share of discrimination and stigma without having to worry about being denied access to care and treatment. Why would he want to take that away from us?

Trump has also sought to undermine Medicaid, which is one of the most troubling aspects of his so-called healthcare reform agenda. Again, according to HIV.gov, "Medicaid is the largest payer for HIV care in the United States, and the expansion of Medicaid to low-income childless adults is particularly important for many gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) who were previously ineligible for Medicaid, and yet remain the population most affected by the HIV epidemic."[2] In fact, Medicaid serves as a lifeline for many of our peers. Why would he want to take that away from us?

To make matters worse, Trump's proposed budget was riddled with cuts to the public health safety net on numerous fronts. Our blog earlier this year, "Trump's Proposed Federal Budget Puts Bullseye on People Living with HIV/AIDS (and many other chronic conditions)," spelled out these problematic proposed cuts. Although his budget flat-funded ADAPs, it called for draconian funding cuts to numerous federal programs specifically designed to assist people living with HIV/AIDS (including some authorized under the very same Ryan White).[3] Why would he want to take that away from us?

Most recently, Trump's plan to address the opioid epidemic in this country (which we applaud) was also accompanied by a significant zinger against the HIV/AIDS community. The plan came with no new money to fund the national emergency response, rather seeking to take the needed funding from existing programs. In other words, robbing Peter to pay Paul. Drew Gibson's op-ed laid out a stinging indictment against the possibility of taking money away from serving people living with HIV/AIDS to fund this initiative.[4] Why would he want to take that away from us?


World AIDS Day
Photo Source: desicomments.com

On World AIDS Day, let us collectively send a message to our government that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We have lost too many lives...we have made so much progress...and we are so close to ending the epidemic! Our message is a simple one: Save Our Care!

__________
[1] HIV.gov. (2017, January 31). The Affordable Care Act and HIV/AIDS. United States Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.hiv.gov/federal-response/policies-issues/the-affordable-care-act-and-hiv-aids.
[2] HIV.gov. (2017, January 31). The Affordable Care Act and HIV/AIDS. United States Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.hiv.gov/federal-response/policies-issues/the-affordable-care-act-and-hiv-aids.
[3] ADAP Blog. (2017, May 25). Trump's Proposed Federal Budget Puts Bullseye on People Living with HIV/AIDS (and many other chronic conditions). ADAP Advocacy Association. Retrieved from http://adapadvocacyassociation.blogspot.com/2017/05/trumps-proposed-federal-budget-puts.html.
[4] Gibson, Drew. (2017, October 31). President Trump's Opioid Response Could Reduce Ryan White HIV/AIDS Funds by $21 Million. TheBody.com. Retrieved from: http://www.thebody.com/content/80551/president-trumps-opioid-response-could-reduce-ryan.html?ic=tbhtrump.

1 comment:

Sue Saltmarsh said...

Bravo, Brandon! Unfortunately, I fear the answer to your "Why" question is nothing more substantial than because he CAN. And we have a Congress that not only caters to the "Emporer's New Clothes" qualitu of his so-called presidency, but that has the same blatant disregard for the lives and suffering of the American People. 2018 MUST be a sea change election that washes Congress clean, brings us National Improved Medicare for All, social justice, environmental protection and renewable energy sources, ends Citizens United and restores and improves our place in the world.

It made me smile to see Bernie's battle cry coming from you, but you're both right-enough IS enough and the HIV/AIDS community must again mobilize, this time to join the resounding "NO MORE!" that I believe will sound throughout the country. Thanks for your work and your commitment to the community!