As Congress prepares to convene in Washington, we at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) are sending a letter to the Illinois congressional delegation to oppose a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On behalf of the estimated 43,500 people living with HIV/AIDS in Illinois, it is essential that our Congress understands the importance the ACA and Medicaid Expansion has had in maintaining leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
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Dear Members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation:
RE: Mandating the Affordable Care Act for Millions of Illinois Residents
On behalf the estimated 43,500 people living with HIV/AIDS in Illinois and the signatories of this letter, we urge you to oppose a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is essential that Congress understand the important role that the ACA and Medicaid Expansion have in supporting local economics and improving the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) across Illinois.
We would like to remind you of these critical facts:
- HIV remains a public health crisis in Illinois with 43,500 people living with HIV and about 1,760 people are newly reported as diagnosed with HIV each year in the state.
- Consumers are continuing to enroll into health coverage through the Marketplace or Medicaid. Many of these individuals rely on the ACA’s financial assistance to afford their coverage – more than 60% of enrollees last year paid less than $100 for their insurance plan.
- More than 20 million people have gained coverage through the Marketplace or Medicaid expansion, including more than 1 million people here in Illinois. Additionally, according to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), 22,598 people with HIV were on Medicaid in 2015. AFC estimates that, thanks to ACA Medicaid expansion, more than 11,400 people enrolled in Medicaid in Illinois.
- Of those living with HIV/AIDS, 45% are not connected to care – nearly 50% are not taking lifesaving HIV medications. They are most likely to transmit HIV to others and miss the life-extending, cost-savings benefits of HIV care.
The lifetime cost of treating a person with HIV is estimated to be over $340,000 for medical care alone. Because HIV disproportionately affects low-income people, the majority of these costs will be borne by the state. Most importantly, it is essential that people with HIV receive treatment early in the progression of the disease.
Evidence released by the National Institute of Health (NIH) demonstrates that consistent access to HIV medications reduces the chance that HIV will be passed along to someone else by 96%. These startling numbers highlight the urgent need for a consistent investment in our approach to HIV treatment and prevention. It is critical that the federal government maintain its financial investment in effective HIV prevention and care programs at current levels to reduce future costs to the state. This goal can be achieved by the maintaining the ACA for all Illinois residents, in particular those living with HIV.
We recognize you face high priority issues in the months ahead. That being said, the ACA is one the most successful and critical pieces of federal legislation enact to serve the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. We as a nation are on the precipice to greatly reduce the number of new infections of HIV, which will ultimately get us closer to ending HIV and AIDS. Do not undermine health care for millions of Americans as we continue reducing new infections, increasing access to care and treatment, and reducing health disparities. Thus, the undersigned organizations and individuals ask for you oppose repeal of the ACA and continue your commitment to safeguarding our health care.