South Carolina HIV Task Force remembers the life of Representative Joe Neal! A wonderful ally and advocate for persons living with HIV and AIDS in South Carolina. Thank...read more
Happy New Year! As we close out 2016 and as 2017 begins to dawn, it seems like a great time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, the journey we’ve taken to get to where we are and the plans we have for an exciting, bright future. I’d like to start with a special Thank you to our SCHTF Staff (Wayne), our Board of Directors, advocates and community partners. I recognize we wouldn’t be where we are without the contributions made by everyone. Thank you! 2016, has been a year of growth, change and transition. At the beginning of 2016, Wayne Borders, Advocacy Coordinator, joined us in March. Mr. Borders has been a great addition to our team and made huge strides in expanding our advocacy work in the community. Mr. Borders as well as our Board of Directors brought with them a breadth and depth of knowledge and expertise which was just what we needed. This year SCHTF hosted our annual Legislative Breakfast, were we met with state Senators, Representative and other elected officials. During the breakfast, we provided our “Legislative asks”; which outlined the lack of insurance coverage for persons living with HIV or AIDS, the ask to expand the Medicaid Program, and the need to regulate Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). SCHTF continued to work with Harvard School of Law Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council (SCHAC), to evaluate the Marketplace insurance plan design. This evaluation produced the 2016 Analysis of Qualified Health Plans for South Carolina. Again, working in collaboration with SCHAC, SCHTF hosted a community forum on PrEP. We finished the year with our Annual Community Advocacy Training, with presentations from Khafre, of Southern AIDS Coalition, Pat Kelley, Positive Women’s Network and our very own Wayne Borders. As we approach the new year, South Carolina HIV Task Force will continue to assess the ever-changing political landscape. Particularly, SCHTF will focus on the following areas for our engagement: Regulation of Pharmacy Benefit Managers: The South Carolina Legislature could pass meaningful legislation, such as the Pharmacy Patient Protection Act, which would prohibit Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) from restricting pharmacy networks. PBMs in South Carolina have notified plan enrollees they cannot access medications from in network pharmacies or alternatively, charge enrollees higher costs for accessing medications outside of pharmacies deemed “preferred.” Oftentimes, PBMs will categorize all HIV medication as “specialty drugs” and require enrollees to obtain these medications only from a limited specialty pharmacy network. The law should prohibit PBMs from limiting insurance coverage beyond the enrollee and companies agreed upon contract. HIV Criminalization Law Modernization: South Carolina HIV Task Force is working in partnership with the Positive Justice Project to modernize HIV Criminalization Laws. South Carolina, like many state, have statues that criminalize individuals living with HIV or AIDS. South Carolina HIV Task Force and The Positive Justice Project is dedicated to eliminating disease-specific criminal laws that base liability on an individual’s health status rather than on the intent to harm another individual. We oppose the use of felony laws, and the associated lengthy terms of incarceration that treat health status as evidence of wrongful intent, and transmission of a treatable illness as equivalent to manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and other forms of assaults that pose immediate, life threatening harm to another. Access to Insurance: Continuing the process of...read more
Recommendations for future health care reforms impacting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid.
Letter to Governor Haley The Honorable Nikki R. Haley Governor of South Carolina 1205 Pendleton Street Columbia, South Carolina 29201 Dear Governor Haley: We are writing on behalf of the South Carolina HIV Task Force (SCHTF), a non-partisan advocacy coalition of individuals, non-profit organizations, and allies from across South Carolina committed to improving the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our state. As you know, Congressional leadership has asked each Governor for their recommendations for future health care reforms impacting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid. We strongly urge you to tell Congress not to repeal the Affordable Care Act, in part or in whole, without an adequate replacement. We also urge you to oppose changes to the financing and coverage guarantees of the Medicaid program. We have made remarkable progress in addressing the HIV epidemic in the United States. Treatment advances have transformed what was once a fatal diagnosis into a chronic disease for many people living with HIV (PLHIV), and landmark scientific research has given us the tools to drastically reduce the rate of new HIV infections. Furthermore, the ACA has expanded access to care for millions of Americans, including many PLHIV who now have private insurance or Medicaid that gives them access to these breakthrough treatments. For the first time in our history, we can envision ending the HIV epidemic. To do so, however, requires that individuals at risk for HIV and those living with the disease have affordable, reliable access to comprehensive health coverage. We are deeply concerned that efforts to quickly repeal the ACA, without simultaneously providing meaningful health coverage alternatives, will leave thousands of South Carolinians uninsured or underinsured. People living with HIV and other chronic conditions cannot afford to be stripped of their health insurance coverage. In providing recommendations to Congress, we strongly urge you to consider the key reform principles listed below: • Maintain critical reforms that address unfair or discriminatory insurer practices, including laws that prohibit insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions or charging individuals more based on health status or gender, or excluding coverage of treatments for specific conditions. Prior to the ACA, South Carolinians living with HIV were largely shut out of the private insurance market by rules that allow plans to deny coverage to individuals with higher-cost conditions, or place coverage out of reach due to high premiums or cost sharing. Without the private insurance market reforms of the ACA, 353,000 South Carolinians are predicted to lose coverage in 2019 , and 822,000 South Carolinians (nearly one-third of non-elderly adults) could be left uninsurable due to pre-existing conditions. • Maintain consumer protections in the private insurance market such as mandated benefits and a prohibition on lifetime and annual coverage caps. Lifetime and annual caps, before the ACA, often resulted in PLHIV and other chronic conditions exhausting their coverage and getting cut off from health care when they needed it the most. Roughly 1.5 million South Carolinians saw lifetime limits on coverage disappear as a result of the ACA. Insurers often try to avoid covering key services and medications for chronic conditions as a method of deterring high cost enrollees, such as those living with HIV, from selecting their plans. PLHIV need a minimum essential benefits package that includes the range of services and...read more
It’s been said that life is all about relationships, and advocacy is no different. It’s all about who you know. And to a greater degree, who knows you. In advocacy, a relationship with your legislator is absolutely vital. It may seem intimidating at first, but with the proper tools and knowledge, building a legislative relationship can be quite easy. It just takes some time, patience, and motivation. Benefit of developing a relationship with your Legislator what YOU want (that LEGISLATORS have) Ability to Change Policies A platform to be heard and champion YOUR cause, issue or problem Ability to make things better/improve what LEGISLATORS want (that YOU have) Expertise on issues Front-line facts Real world knowledge Once you have built a relationship with your legislator, the hardest part is over. Now that you know your legislator and your legislator knows you, engaging in advocacy will become easier and more comfortable. While all constituents are important to a legislator, they are not all treated equally. With a relationship built on trust, your letters, e-mails, faxes, and phone calls carry more weight. Your legislator will look at you not only as a constituent, but as a reliable inside source of relevant and vital information. You become their link to HIV/AIDS related issues in South Carolina. Here is our SCHTF member, Legislator introduction...read more
Greetings supporters and friends, My name is Kendall Brooks, and it is an honor to introduce myself to you as the new Executive Director of South Carolina HIV Task Force (SCHTF), I am humbled to have the privilege to lead this organization. There is no doubt that this is an exciting time for SCHTF as we begin a new chapter in our story. It is an honor to be associated with an organization that for nearly ten years has done so much to advocate for the expansion and strengthening of HIV prevention, care, treatment, support and education throughout the state of South Carolina. With a number of excellent members firmly committed to our mission, an array of outstanding organizations with whom we partner, SCHTF is well prepared to face the challenges ahead. In my role as ED, it will be my pleasure to work with each of you to increase the number of services we offer and the people we serve, grow the number of volunteers, and to raise the funds and awareness necessary to help ensure everyone in our state can access affordable and quality HIV treatment, care, education and support services. I hope to meet each of you soon, and learn more about each of you, but until we see each other in person, I thought you might want to know a little something about me. Family is extremely important to me and is the driving force behind many of my achievements. My fiancé, Shakeem, provides me with abundant amount of love and support. My mother and step-father have worked tirelessly to build a wonderful life for my siblings and myself. I am 1 of 5 children, second to the youngest, but I still manage to gain the title of the “favorite”. One thing my family has taught me is – that you must be ready to stand up for what you believe in. Decide what you really think is best, and stick with it. I have a Bachelor’s of Social Work from South Carolina State University and a Master’s of Social Work from the University of South Carolina – Columbia campus, with a concentration in organizations and communities. I have worked with a number of AIDS Service Organizations in the state of South Carolina; implementing/facilitating intervention programs, leading peer education groups as well as participated in grant development. I encourage your involvement and welcome your ideas as well as your continued financial support. Please feel free to contact me at with your comments, suggestions, or concerns. And THANKS AGAIN for what you have already done. Sincerely, Kendall S. Brooks,...read more