Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Letters needed to protect PWAs with Medicare/Medicaid

The Access Project has sent the following message with a request to distribute widely. The message requests response from individuals.

Please help distribute widely.
HIV Medicare and Medicaid Workgroup (HIVMMW) Action Alert
Letters Needed Now to Protect PWAs with Medicare/Medicaid
Letters and Online Comments Due October 4th

Do you know that roughly 60,000 PWAs might lose their comprehensive prescription drug coverage in 2006, when the new Medicare Rx benefit comes into effect?

According to regulations being drafted, Medicare recipients will no longer be allowed to rely on Medicaid for their prescription drug coverage. Instead, they will be forced into the new Medicare Rx plans with limited drug coverage. These plans are not required to provide all FDA approved antiretroviral drugs.

PWAs who have both Medicaid and Medicare are long time survivors, who are treatment experienced and likely to have drug resistance problems. A massive and united response is needed to keep their treatment regimens effective.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that oversees Medicare, is requesting comments on the draft regulation. We need a massive and united response to make sure that people with HIV/AIDS receive protections in the final regulations.

Please take some time to be a part of this response! A sample letter has been provided for your use and personalization. Written comments can be made either online or through the mail.

To submit comments online, go to http://www.cms.hhs.gov/regulations/ecomments/. If you make comments online, please send a copy of these comments to rclary@projectinform.org, so we can track the community response.

To submit comments by mail, please mail or fax the letter to the address/fax below no later than Monday, September 27th. The federal government is requesting two copies of all comments. We will make all copies and mail the letters.

Send letters to:
Ryan Clary
c/o Project Inform
205-13th Street, #2001
San Francisco, CA 94103
FAX: 415-558-0684

Sample Letter:

Feel free to cut and paste this letter. Add your name and contactinformation at the bottom. If you can, please add a personal message. This is especially important if you receive Medicare benefits. The federal government needs to know how this bill will affect people's lives.If you need any help crafting your message, please contact Ryan Clary at rclary@projectinform.org.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Department of Health and Human Services
Attention: CMS-4068-P
P.O. Box 8014
Baltimore, MD 21244-8014

To Whom It May Concern:

I am responding to the proposed rule "Medicare Program; Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit," 69 FR 46632. I am concerned that the current rule does not provide sufficient protection for people with HIV/AIDS who will receive their treatment through this benefit.

CMS must designate people living with HIV/AIDS as a "special population" and ensure that they have access to an open formulary of prescription drugs and access to all medications at the preferred level of cost-sharing. This would ensure that HIV-positive individuals would have affordable access to all FDA-approved antiretrovirals, in all approved formulations, as is recommended by the Public Health Service HIV treatment guidelines.

[INSERT PERSONAL STATEMENT HERE. If you are on Medicare, talk about how these regulations will affect you. Otherwise, write a couple of sentences about the need for people with HIV to have full access to treatment, regardless of ability to pay.]

Thank you for considering my comments as you finalize the regulations.

Sincerely,
Your name
Your address

The HIV Medicare and Medicaid Workgroup is a coalition of national, state and local AIDS advocacy organizations, community groups, healthcare providers, and universities committed to ensuring that people living with HIV/AIDS have access to appropriate, cost-effective health care and drug treatment. The HIVMMWG is an affiliated working group of the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership. The working group is committed to protecting and expanding coverage for people living with HIV/AIDS under Medicare and Medicaid.

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