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GA Clogged HIV AID Pipeline PDF Print E-mail
Articles | Health

 

Metro area AIDS activists say it is not an isolated problem. Dozens of their clients have been put at risk of losing their health insurance because of paperwork snafus by the health department.

 

The Health Insurance Continuation Program is a federally funded program that pays the private insurance premiums for low-income people with HIV and AIDS. In some cases, those premiums can run as high as $1,100 a month.

 

“They said there is pretty much nothing they can do. They returned the check and denied my appeal,” Goodshepherd said of his insurance company. “It left me with over $10,000 in medical bills that I am unable to pay. I don’t know what I can do at this point.”

 

Paying private insurance premiums, while expensive, is cheaper than funneling the patients into the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, where the state picks up the tab for patients’ costly prescription drugs.

 

Goodshepherd is trying to get into that program now, despite a long waiting list.

 

State Health Officer Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, who became head of the Department of Public Health in February, acknowledged the Health Insurance Continuation Program had a spate of late payments in January.

 

But she said new policies — and some personnel changes — has it back on sure footing.

 

“There certainly was a lot of difficulty in the past,” she said. “Clearly, letting the insurance lapse is unacceptable.”

 

Fitzgerald said two employees with HICP no longer work for the state as a result.

 

Dr. Anil Mangla, director of infectious diseases for the Department of Public Health, said new policies were instituted this year to process paperwork more quickly, ensuring payments are made on time.

 

Officially, the department asks the nonprofits that vet applicants to submit paperwork to the state for the clients 30 days in advance, but Mangla said turnaround time is about two weeks.

 

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