On September 6, 2016, AIDS Law Project and Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI) filed formal complaints with the federal Office of Civil Rights alleging that insurers design plans discriminatory to people living with HIV.
In the face of highly restrictive and discriminatory health insurance plans within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplaces, AIDS Law Project and CHLPI, along with partners in six other states, are undertaking a new advocacy campaign to enforce the health care rights guaranteed by the ACA for people living with HIV and other chronic conditions. Drawing upon the AIDS Law Project’s reputation in Pennsylvania, CHLPI’s extensive research and new avenues for civil rights enforcement under the ACA, the campaign aims to strengthen protections in the health insurance Marketplaces and eliminate insurer practices that prevent vulnerable patients from receiving the care and treatment they need. These discriminatory practices include refusing to cover key medications and requiring high cost sharing for all medications used to address certain health conditions.
The AIDS Law Project has collaborated with CHLPI and filed administrative complaints against Highmark, Independence Blue Cross and UPMC with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The insurers flagged by CHLPI and its state partners have routinely denied coverage for HIV medications or limited access to needed medications through prohibitively high cost sharing plans. OCR is charged with the enforcement of the ACA’s new anti-discrimination regulations in state ACA health insurance Marketplaces.
In addition to filing the OCR Complaints, the campaign includes an education and media initiative to increase public pressure on federal and state government regulators and insurers via social media, traditional press, and additional outreach activities. CHLPI and its state partners are working to ensure that people living with HIV and their allies understand the patterns of discrimination found in their local insurance markets and how to advocate for an end to health insurance discrimination.
The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI) advocates for legal, regulatory, and policy reforms to improve the health of underserved populations, with a focus on the needs of low-income people living with chronic illnesses. CHLPI works to expand access to high-quality healthcare; to reduce health disparities; to develop community advocacy capacity; and to promote more equitable and effective healthcare systems. CHLPI is a clinical teaching program of Harvard Law School and mentors students to become skilled, innovative, and thoughtful practitioners as well as leaders in health and public health law and policy.