Lambda Legal Files Administrative Complaints Against Two More Louisiana Insurers Targeting People with HIV

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February 13, 2014

Lambda Legal announced today that it has filed administrative complaints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights against two additional Louisiana health insurers who are adopting BlueCross BlueShield of Louisiana's (BCBS's) approach and are no longer accepting federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) third-party premium subsidies for low-income Louisianans living with HIV. The New Orleans AIDS Task Force has joined in these complaints as well.

Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, said:

Sadly, two more insurers - Louisiana Health Cooperative, Inc. and Vantage Health Plan, Inc. - are following the lead of BCBS and refusing to accept payments that provide life-saving care to Louisianans living with HIV. We had hoped, of course, that other insurers in Louisiana would resist the horrible example of the state's largest insurer, do the right thing and continue to accept RWHAP premium subsidies. However, as feared, the awful effects of BCBS's discriminatory policy shift effectively denying coverage to low-income people living with HIV have multiplied.

RWHAP is a federal program through which the federal government functions as a payer of last resort, making grants to states, cities and nonprofit organizations to help low-income individuals living with HIV purchase health insurance they could not otherwise afford. Beginning this month, BCBS of Louisiana abruptly stopped accepting RHWAP premium subsidies on behalf of existing policyholders living with HIV, returning RWHAP premium checks to the state program administrator. BCBS of Louisiana also stopped accepting RHWAP premium subsidies from new enrollees. This week, Louisiana Health Cooperative, Inc., and Vantage Health Plan, Inc., announced a similar policy shift.

Lambda Legal sent a letter to BCBS of Louisiana on January 27, 2014, asking that the insurance provider reverse its policy change and resume accepting RHWAP premium subsidies or explain the rationale for its abrupt and harmful policy shift. Lambda Legal requested a response by January 30, 2014, but BCBS of Louisiana never responded.

Read the complaints here and here.

Read the original complaint against BCBS.

Read the press release.

HIV, Louisiana, HIV