Congresswoman Maxine Waters Leads Bipartisan Group Seeking Coverage of Routine HIV Tests as a Requirement for Health Insurance Plans in Proposed Health Care Reform Bill
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) is among the leading health advocates who believe health care reform can both save lives and save money by making HIV tests a routine part of Americans' medical examinations that is covered by their health insurance. Congresswoman Waters led a bipartisan group of 21 Representatives who wrote to Chairman Henry Waxman and Ranking Member Joe Barton, leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today to request that the major health care reform bill – the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (H.R. 3200) – include provisions requiring health insurance plans to cover routine HIV tests under the same terms and conditions as other routine health screenings. The Energy and Commerce Committee will complete its consideration of this legislation next week.
Congresswoman Waters has encouraged all Americans to get tested for HIV and educate themselves about the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS. Leading by example, she was tested at a recent event held in advance of National HIV Testing Day (June 27th).
To increase the likelihood that more people will be tested for HIV, Congresswoman Waters earlier this year introduced the Routine HIV Screening Coverage Act (H.R. 2137) which would require health insurance plans to cover routine HIV tests under the same terms and conditions as other routine health screenings. She now seeks to accomplish this objective through H.R. 3200, the landmark health care reform bill that President Obama and Congressional leaders have identified as legislation that must be passed this year.
Standard health insurance plans generally cover HIV screening only when there are known risk factors present for HIV or when there are clinical indications of infection, such as symptoms of AIDS. Furthermore, current law allows health insurance plans to deny coverage for routine HIV tests on the grounds that the patient has no known risk factors and does not exhibit signs or symptoms of AIDS. However, Congresswoman Waters notes that many of those who are infected with HIV do not fall into high risk categories. Therefore, routine testing for HIV for all people is important.