HRC: New Senate Proposal Jeopardizes Health Coverage for Millions of Americans

HRC responded to the latest draft of the Senate’s so-called “health care” bill. While the Congressional Budget Office has yet to score this version of the legislation, a previous projection estimated the legislation will result in 22 million Americans losing their health insurance by 2026 — with 15 million losing their insurance by the end of next year.

“Today, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell released a new draft that would still rip health care from millions of people, with a particularly devastating impact on low-income senior citizens, women, children, LGBTQ people, and people living with HIV,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “Any health care proposal should improve the lives of individuals — not put them at risk. This version of the bill is just as bad as the previous ones. With people’s lives on the line, we urge the Senate to stop this madness and reject this harmful piece of legislation.”

Like the prior versions, the most recent bill undermines core provisions of the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a result of the ACA, thousands of low-income people living with HIV have been able to obtain health insurance through the Medicaid expansion. This critical coverage ensures that people living with HIV have access to lifesaving treatments. The bill’s drastic changes to Medicaid will likely strip these people, and other vulnerable populations, of essential healthcare coverage.

Beyond repealing these key provisions of the ACA, the bill would also cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which could jeopardize the ability of clinics to deliver preventive health services, including HIV testing and transition-related care. The ACA’s public health and prevention fund, established to expand investments in the nation’s public health infrastructure, would also be repealed. Health centers, like those operated by Planned Parenthood, often offer the only culturally competent healthcare available, especially in rural and isolated areas.

In considering the ACA in 2009 and 2010, the House held 79 hearings over the course of a year, heard from 181 witnesses and accepted 121 amendments. The current House leadership has moved this unacceptable repeal and replacement legislation through the House in a matter of weeks. The Senate adopted the ACA only after approximately 100 hearings, roundtables, walkthroughs and other meetings, and after 25 consecutive days in continuous session debating the bill.

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First Generic For HIV Prevention Approved by FDA, Critical Step Toward Ending Epidemic

Today, HRC Foundation responded to the important decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a generic version of Truvada, the potentially lifesaving antiretroviral medication used for HIV treatment and prevention. Before today’s decision, Truvada was the only medication FDA-approved for PrEP in the United States.

“While the timeline is uncertain for when a generic drug will be available to consumers, today’s decision by the FDA is a much-needed breakthrough in our ongoing efforts to expand HIV prevention options, especially for those most vulnerable to HIV and AIDS” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Training. “Despite growing use of PrEP nationally, the drug remains out-of-reach for many in the communities hardest hit by the epidemic, including young gay and bisexual men and transgender women of color. We implore Gilead to continue their critical payment assistance programs and urge other companies to provide similar financial relief.”

HRC is committed to working with our allies, partners, members, and supporters to end the dual epidemics of HIV and HIV-related stigma. In 2014, HRC endorsed the use of PrEP, recognizing that when taken as prescribed by a healthcare provider, PrEP has been shown to be safe and highly effective at reducing one’s chances of contracting HIV. PrEP is not right for all individuals, and any medical decision should be made in concert with a knowledgeable healthcare provider.

To learn more about PrEP, visit http://www.hrc.org/resources/is-prep-right-for-me.

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Congress Sends Letter to Indonesia to Stop Government-Sponsored Anti-LGBTQ Actions

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) and 35 other members of Congress sent a letter to the Indonesian government, calling on them to put a stop to recent government-sponsored anti-LGBTQ actions there.

The letter was written in response to a number of horrific reports out of Indonesia, including the arrest of more than 140 men suspected of homosexuality on May 21. The police released several photographs of the arrested men to the media, exposing their identities to family and friends and potentially putting them at risk of social ostracism and violence. 

A few days later, on May 23, two gay men in Aceh province were publicly caned and were photographed and humiliated in front of a crowd of spectators. The following day, the police force in West Java announced plans to establish a task force to specifically target LGBTQ people, with the police chief calling homosexuality “a disease,” and that LGBTQ people will “face the law and heavy social sanctions.”

The Congressional letter sends a clear message to the Indonesian government that they “cannot turn a blind eye to the persecution of minority communities, whether women, religious minorities, or LGBTQ people.” It warns the Indonesians that “such attacks can metastasize and put an entire country’s stability, security, and foreign investments at risk.” It therefore urges the government there to “exercise its responsibility to investigate and put a stop to repressive and discriminatory actions against minorities” while asking them to “affirmatively protect the civil and human rights of all its citizens, no matter their identities, sexual orientations, genders, religions, or religious views.”

“The horrific violence targeting LGBTQ people in Indonesia is part of a troubling yet growing trend driven by hate and fear around the world, including in places like Chechnya, Bangladesh, and elsewhere,” HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy said in a statement. “With an absence of action from the Trump administration on these human rights abuses, we are grateful for Rep. Maloney’s leadership in calling for an end to this violence and putting Indonesia officials on notice that the eyes of the world are closely watching.”

“Indonesia is an important leader and regional ally in Southeast Asia – and they have a responsibility over there to set a good example of what a democracy should look like, but lately they haven’t been living up to that responsibility,” Rep. Maloney said in a statement. “Oppressing your own citizens because of their religion, their gender, or their sexual orientation undermines democratic values and erodes civil society and I won’t stand for it.”

The full letter can be found here.

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