ACA Turns Four: Recognizing Successes and Looking Ahead

By Xavior Robinson, Senior Manager, Health Care Access, NASTAD

Signing of the ACAMarch 23 marked the fourth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While it is undeniable that the ACA’s inaugural open enrollment period has had its share of challenges, it is important to recognize that the movement to ensure that all Americans have equitable access to health care transcends the technology failures of HealthCare.gov. Over the past four years, state HIV/AIDS programs have worked to adapt and innovate to meet needs of people living with HIV and co-occurring conditions in our evolving health care landscape. Through the use of innovative solutions (see Raising the Bars), support from colleagues and staff, and an enduring commitment to the broader public health imperative presented by HIV, state AIDS directors have leveraged the ACA to achieve remarkable results, including: Continue reading

NASTAD Releases Key Findings of the 2014 National AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) Monitoring Project Annual Report

By Amanda Bowes, Associate, Health Care Access and Viral Hepatitis, NASTAD

2014 National ADAP Monitoring Project Annual ReportToday, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) released key findings of the 2014 National ADAP Monitoring Project Annual Report. The National ADAP Monitoring Project is NASTAD’s long-standing effort to document new developments and challenges facing AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs), assessing key trends over time and providing the latest available data on the status of ADAPs. For the last 19 years, NASTAD has provided comprehensive analysis about ADAPs through The Report.

The Report provides an overview of the status of ADAPs as they prepared for full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Continue reading

Advocates Continue Push to Require Insurers to Accept Ryan White Payments

By Amy Killelea, Associate Director, Health Care Access, NASTAD

CMS ACA Ryan White Payment Guidance

Insurers in two states – Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Louisiana and North Dakota – have prohibited the acceptance of premium payments from the Ryan White Program/AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) on behalf of eligible low-income clients. These policies risk leaving hundreds of low-income people living with HIV unable to access Qualified Health Plan coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and have prompted a swift federal and state advocacy response.

Continue reading

Young Black Gay Men: What Do We Need?

By Brandon Horsley-Thompson, Participant in the 2013 NASTAD Black Gay Men’s Technical Assistance Meeting

Brandon Horsely-ThompsonI came into the field of HIV prevention to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s been a long road full of deaths, fighting within the community, mismanagement, and numerous encounters with young Black gay men, who felt like their lives were not worth living. I recently attended NASTAD’s Black Gay Men’s Technical Assistance meeting, jam packed with information about the Affordable Care Act and enrollment, state based population specific HIV continuums of care for Texas and Tennessee, and new advancements in biomedical prevention – PrEP and home testing. The meeting put into context how all of these systems interplay with the health department and its constituents and provided strategies for working with Black gay men in this ever shifting landscape. However, at the beginning of the second day of the meeting, I was asked “What do you need as young Black gay man?” I sat silent for some time. What did I need? Emotionally? Mentally? Support systems? Was the facilitator talking about the collective “you,” as young Black gay men or me individually? I had never considered the question as I had gone about this work, and needless to say, I was stumped. I spoke from the heart. Continue reading

Maintaining Focus on the HIV and STD Epidemics among Gay Men – A CONCEPT from the Louisiana Department of Health

By Isaiah Webster III, Senior Manager, Health Equity/Prevention

Louisiana Wellness Center ProjectBefore there was AIDS, there was GRID or “gay-related immune deficiency.” Given the mystery and hysteria of 1982, GRID seemed like an appropriate moniker for an immune system “plague” that seemed to mostly afflict gay men. However, scientists quickly realized that GRID wasn’t a “gay plague” at all; rather it was a social disease capable of afflicting almost anyone. GRID became known as AIDS, caused by a retrovirus known as HIV – the human immunodeficiency virus.  Continue reading