Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday Best of COP 24/7

COP 24/7 is on the road this week to LGBT Net Roots Connect and Net Roots Nation. Please check out our coverage on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/corneliusonpoint

Editors Note: This piece first appeared, 12/16/2009. Even though we've pushed through the first waves of education and enrollment of the Affordable Care Act, impending next open enrollment coming this November, it's apparent that there's need to further awareness and existing information gaps that need addressing by a variety of sources.

One could consider that such an effort was begun within the last year incuding the development of the Community Connectors initiative featuring such contractors as Arkansas RAPPS ( Reaching, Affirming, Positive, Progressive, Systems), Living Affected's LGBTQ Cultural Sensitivity sessions and a well attended HRC health forum have all taken place since this post.

Next week during Black Gay Pride week another such opportunity will present itself via a scheduled "Real Talk," being held at CALS in downtown Little Rock. As the week progresses, watch this space for more on the road updates and additional content on our digital platforms.

Medicare Expands List of Covered Preventive Services to Include HIV Screening Tests

As the healthcare debate ebbs and flows on Capital Hill, comes this interesting diversion from CMS which certainly broadsided myself as well as makes me wonder what took so long to decide this matter since we are now some 25 years into the HIV/AIDS delimma.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced its final decision to cover Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection screening for Medicare beneficiaries who are at
increased risk for the infection, including women who are pregnant and Medicare beneficiaries of any age who voluntarily request the service. The decision is effective immediately.Under the recently passed Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA), CMS now has the flexibility of adding to Medicare's list of covered preventive services, if certain requirements are met.
Priorto this law, Medicare could only cover additional preventive screening tests when Congress authorized it to do so. "Today's  decision marks an important milestone in the history of the Medicare program," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Beginning with expanding coverage for HIV screening, we can now work proactively as a program to help keep Medicare beneficiaries healthy and take a more active role in evaluating the evidence for preventive services. "Under  MIPPA, CMS can consider whether Medicare should cover preventive services that Congress has not already deemed as covered or non-covered bylaw.
 Among other requirements, the new services must have been "strongly recommended" or "recommended" by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. For instance, the Task Force graded HIV screening as "strongly recommended" for certain groups. More information about the Task Force is available online at http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstfix.htm.
"Every adult should know their HIV status," said Dr. Howard K. Koh, HHS assistant secretary for health. "This decision by Medicare should help promote screening and save lives. "CMS uses the national coverage determination (NCD) process to make decisions on these types of preventive services. This process provides transparency about the evidence that CMS considers when making its decisions and allows opportunity for the public to comment on CMS' proposals.
"Medicare's  coverage of HIV screening tests is an important step forward in protecting beneficiaries from the potentially devastating and life-threatening complications of HIV and Acquired immunodeficiency Syndrome(AIDS)," said CMS Acting Administrator Charlene Frizzera.
AIDS is diagnosed when an HIV-infected person's immune system becomes severely compromised or a person becomes ill with an HIV-related infection. Of the more than one million estimated to have the HIV infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that about a quarter of them do not realize they are infected. Without treatment, AIDS develops within 8 to 10 years. While there is presently no cure for HIV, screening can help identify infected patients so that they can receive medical treatment that could help delay the onset of AIDS for years.

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