xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

HIV patients threatened by proposed CMS rule | READER COMMENTARY

Antonia Tolson uses a solution of methanol and water to flush a machine. She has a grant to finish her research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy on the interaction between methadone and drugs to treat illnesses such as HIV and hepatitis C.
Antonia Tolson uses a solution of methanol and water to flush a machine. She has a grant to finish her research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy on the interaction between methadone and drugs to treat illnesses such as HIV and hepatitis C. (Baltimore Sun photo by Kim Hairston)

Maryland has one of the highest rates of HIV-positive patients in the country. Unfortunately, a proposal from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has the potential to significantly raise out-of-pocket costs and prevent access to critical treatments for as many as 32,000 Marylanders living with HIV (“Baltimore officials fear the coronavirus pandemic will exacerbate another public health issue: STD rates,” Oct. 7).

Many Marylanders with HIV are stable when they take their medication, and they often depend on cost-sharing assistance like co-pay coupons to afford the prescription drugs they need. While the proposal (CMS 2842 P) has good intentions — to ensure cost-sharing assistance benefits patients directly and not health plans — it actually has the opposite effect. The proposal would, in fact, further erode the availability of cost-sharing assistance and increase out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for patients.

Advertisement

The language in this proposal could have significant and far-reaching negative consequences. Many HIV treatments can significantly extend the life of patients, but these benefits are dependent on long-term medication adherence. If patients can no longer afford their medication because cost-sharing assistance has been eliminated, they cannot properly manage the virus.

In the midst of a pandemic that has resulted in 4 million new Medicaid enrollments across the country and almost 128,000 job losses and 4,000 deaths in Maryland, it is more critical than ever that patients with chronic conditions like HIV are able to afford the medication they need. As health care advocates, Consumers for Quality Care urges the Trump administration to swiftly pull back this proposal to ensure affordable access to critical care. Marylanders depend on it

Advertisement

Donna Christensen, Catharpin, Va.

The writer, a Democrat, represented the U.S. Virgin Island as a non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997 to 2015.

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement