January 10, 2019

Opposed to limiting access to HIV treatment? Contact us by January 25 so we can help you say it in your local paper!!

As you know, we need your help now to actively oppose federal efforts to reduce the number of drugs listed in the “six protected classes” available to people on Medicare. If this cut happens, some ARVs will be removed from the ”protected” list, making it harder for health care providers to make sure that each Medicare patient gets the right combination of medications to treat their particular condition.

Thanks to some external support on this issue, we can now offer our members two ways to be heard:

If you haven’t done so already, please submit your own, personal comment on the proposed rule before January 25, the end of the open comment period. It is quick and easy to do this. For more information on how to comment on the proposed CMS rule, please visit can also …

Volunteer to write an op-ed for your city’s newspaper – with the pro bono assistance from communications experts!  These folks can talk with you about what you want to communicate in this letter, then work with you on drafting it, selecting where to submit it, etc. Having this assistance will save you time and enhance your odds of getting published.

To write an op-ed, please contact Amber McCracken, AAHIVM Communications Director at We need to get as many of your op-eds published as possible to raise awareness of how important this issue is.  As our Board Chair Dr. Margaret Hoffman-Terry put it, “It is medically crucial to have all options on the table when prescribing and to be able to start those drugs quickly, with no barriers to access.”

Arkansas Doubles Down on Work Requirements – Thousands Lose Medicaid Coverage

Starting on February 4, 19-29 year old Arkansans on Medicaid will be subjected to work requirement rules, as their 30-49 year old counterparts have been since last June. The decision to expand the program is surprising given heated controversy over the state’s experience with it so far.

Two weeks ago, Politico reported that nearly 17,000 Arkansans had been locked out of Medicaid coverage since the start of Work Requirements last June which mandate that qualified participants report at least 80 hours of work per month. Those failing to do so for three months are “locked out” of Medicaid for a year. Lock-outs, at the rate of over 4000 per month, started in August (three month after the program’s inception) and continue apace. Alarmed by the state’s lock-out numbers, the Congressionally convened Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) reported in November that, “the low level of reporting is a strong warning signal that the current process may not be structured in a way that provides individuals an opportunity to succeed, with high stakes for beneficiaries who fail.”

Vox reports that November data from Arkansas’ Department of Human Services corroborates the trend. That month, 1428 work requirement recipients reported their work hours successfully while 8400 participants failed to report 80 hours of work accomplished. Of the latter, 98% reported no work activities at all.

Politico reports that the state is making some efforts to facilitated participant access to online reporting equipment, “including a new phone line for enrollees to report their hours”. They are also putting online reporting kiosks in their offices but “the state has not hired additional workers to help Medicaid enrollees navigate the new rules, despite the high stakes for non-compliance.”

Although CMS has Medicaid approved such work requirements for five other states, they have not yet been implemented elsewhere. Court challenges regarding the Constitutionality of such measures are now underway in Kentucky and Arkansas.

View the latest Policy Update here.