Letter from the Executive Director
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 ensuring that private health insurance works for people living with HIV and other chronic illnesses by reducing discriminatory insurance coverage practices and defending subsidies to low-income people.
- Saving the Affordable Care Act: Urging Congress to not to repeal the Affordable Care Act, in part or in whole, without an adequate replacement.
Looking towards 2017, we know there will be challenges, but with the wonderful staff, board of directors, partners and community advocates we will persevere.
Thank you! I look forward to an exciting year!