Defend health reform! Be an advocate!

The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, but the fight for comprehensive reform is just beginning. Your federal, state and local officials need to know that you want full and fair health reform for people living with and at risk for HIV and AIDS. Here are three top issues you can take action on, and some ideas for how you can get involved.

1. Health care reform is under attack in Congress and the court system. One reason is that many individuals don’t fully understand the benefits of the law and how it has already begun to make a difference for many Americans, including many with HIV. Learn more. ·

One great way to help defend health care reform is to educate yourself and those you care for about the benefits of health care reform. It is also important to talk to your elected officials about the difference health care reform will make in your life and urge them to support it.

You can also make sure key provisions of health reform are adequately funded and protected against repeal. There have already been many proposals to reduce funding for pieces of health care reform or repeal certain parts of the law altogether, like:

• The Prevention and Public Health Fund

• The Medicaid “Maintenance of Effort” requirement

• Community health center investments

The Supreme Court & Health Reform: The U.S. Supreme Court will consider in 2012 a court case that challenges the constitutionality of the individual mandate.  Not quite sure what that means?  We weren’t either until our crack legal team at Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation shared this paper.  Give it a one-over, and you’ll be ready take on anyone who says the Commerce Clause of the Constitution doesn’t apply to health care reform.

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2. Defend Medicaid and Medicare: Come 2014, these two public programs will deliver health care to most people living with HIV, and both are under attack by opponents of health care reform. Medicaid is the more vulnerable program since it serves the lowest income Americans. Learn how you can defend Medicaid. ·

 

Defend Medicaid at the State & Federal Level (PDF), November 2011, Presentation by Harvard Law School Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation/Treatment Access Expansion Project, U.S. Conference on AIDS.

Check out the Medicaid Defense toolkit for everything you need to help Congress get the message that cutting the health safety net will hurt low-income Americans, and our nation as a whole. Whether you need a quick script for calling Congress or the essential steps of how to organize a meeting with your U.S. representative or senator, the toolkit can help. Here’s what you’ll find in our toolkit:

Factsheet and Talking Points on the Importance of Medicaid for People Living with HIV/AIDS

Five Ways YOU Can Take Action on Medicaid

Communications Tips & Tools

◦ Sample Letters to the Editor

◦ Sample Action Alert

◦ Impact of Medicaid Cuts in key Congressional Districts and States

Training Slides on How to Meet with Your Member of Congress in Your Home State

Special thanks to the Grassroots Advocacy group of the HIV Healthcare Access Working Group and AIDS United for making this toolkit available.

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3. Sensible deficit reduction: Nationally, politicians are debating reducing the federal deficit—the difference between how much the federal government spends and earns through taxes and other income. Learn more. ·

Some members of Congress and other leaders propose reducing the deficit through spending cuts alone without seeking additional revenue through taxes or other fees.

We believe cuts must be balanced with new revenue to ensure that low-income and vulnerable Americans alone do not bear the burden of reducing the deficit. Drastic cuts also run the risk of destroying the health care safety net and decimating the coverage expansions planned under health care reform. You can follow the debate on Families USA’s “Health Care Faces the Budget Battle” site.

Resources:

HIV Community Deficit Reduction Principles (PDF)

Materials from December 15, 2011 webinar “Is no deal a good deal? Deficit Reduction, HIV Services & What Comes Next”.  Download the slides or watch the recording.

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4. Here are three other ways to join the fight. ·

Get in the loop: learn the issues, get the most up-to-date information and easily communicate with your elected officials

Join the HIV Care Access Working Group for monthly conference calls with AIDS advocates working on health care reform and receive alerts and information.

- Find your state’s health reform advocacy organization (click on your state and then select key health contacts)

Join the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities health care email lists

Join Families USA e-mail lists

Tell your story: How will access to quality affordable health care affect you? Use this handy worksheet to figure out the most effective way to tell your story and share it with legislators, the media, and your community.

- Worksheet (MS Word doc or PDF)

- Submit your story to the Families USA Story Bank, and see if an organization in your state has a story bank

- Contact your legislators: simply enter your address to find the name and contact information for your federal and state officials

– Contact  your local media and tell them why health reform matters to you

– Educate those you care for about health care reform and ask them to get active

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