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Early HIV Treatment Bill Reintroduced in Senate:
Medicaid expansion to include HIV
 
 
  Philadelphia Gay News
(03.29.07), Casey Bell
 
On March 13, Sens. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) reintroduced the Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA), which would expand health care access for low-income HIV patients.
 
At present, asymptomatic HIV patients are not eligible for Medicaid coverage until they progress to an AIDS diagnosis. ETHA would allow states to amend Title XIX of the Social Security Act to offer Medicaid coverage to low-income, childless HIV patients before they receive an AIDS diagnosis. If passed, the bill would be classified as an entitlement program, meaning individual states could determine who would be eligible.
 
Smith originally introduced ETHA in February 2005. Although it received Senate approval as an amendment to the November 2005 budget reconciliation package, it did not survive in conference committee.
 
A PriceWaterhouseCoopers analysis of the bill found it would save the federal government about $32.7 million over a 10-year period by delaying the need for more expensive treatments.
 
ETHA has 20 co-sponsors, including Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and has been referred to the Committee on Finance. No corresponding bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives
 
 
 
 
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