Schakowsky urges Office for Civil Rights to investigate discrimination against people with HIV, AIDS

U.S.+Rep.+Jan+Schakowsky+%28D-Ill.%29+speaks+at+an+event+in+September.+Schakowsky%2C+along+with+eight+other+Democrats%2C+urged+the+Office+for+Civil+Rights+to+review+complaints+from+people+with+HIV+and+AIDS.
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Schakowsky urges Office for Civil Rights to investigate discrimination against people with HIV, AIDS

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) speaks at an event in September. Schakowsky, along with eight other Democrats, urged the Office for Civil Rights to review complaints from people with HIV and AIDS.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) speaks at an event in September. Schakowsky, along with eight other Democrats, urged the Office for Civil Rights to review complaints from people with HIV and AIDS.

Daily file photo by Claire Pak

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) speaks at an event in September. Schakowsky, along with eight other Democrats, urged the Office for Civil Rights to review complaints from people with HIV and AIDS.

Daily file photo by Claire Pak

Daily file photo by Claire Pak

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) speaks at an event in September. Schakowsky, along with eight other Democrats, urged the Office for Civil Rights to review complaints from people with HIV and AIDS.

Jake Holland, Assistant City Editor

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U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) urged the director of the Office for Civil Rights in a Tuesday letter to review complaints concerning discriminatory insurance practices against people living with HIV and AIDS.

The letter, signed by Schakowsky and eight other Democrats, asked OCR director Roger Severino to investigate claims that suggest insurers may have placed HIV/AIDS medications in higher cost-sharing tiers than comparable drugs.

While Truvada, a drug aimed at preventing HIV infection, was placed in tier 5 — the highest cost-sharing tier — many Affordable Care Act plans list similar drugs on intermediate tiers, according to the letter.

“Limited formulary design and adverse tiering practices described in these complaints appear to be textbook cases of what has been described as ‘risk avoidance by a plan,’” the letter said. “(They use) discriminatory benefit packages to discourage the enrollment of consumers with significant health care needs.”

The letter also said people living with HIV or AIDS who enroll with risk avoidance-practicing insurers face “exorbitant” co-insurance requirements, possibly causing people to forego prescribed medications.

By forgoing medication, costs for medical care could rise, burdening people with higher out-of-pocket costs, the letter said. Businesses that provide health insurance to employees and taxpayers who help provide cost-sharing assistance could also be negatively affected.

The letter said the administrative complaints were filed over a year ago and that there are concerns about the delayed response.

“It is manifestly evident that the enforcement of a fair playing field among insurers — free from discrimination against vulnerable, chronically ill people — promotes Marketplace stability during a time when such efforts are a priority for Congress,” the letter said.

Email: jacobholland2020@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @jakeholland97

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