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Happy Changes to Illinois Criminal HIV Transmission Law

It’s hard to think of an Illinois law that we at AIDS Legal Council of Chicago have hated more than the Illinois Criminal Transmission of HIV statute.  This bit of fear-mongering legislation has been on the books for over 20 years, and it turns people with HIV into felons whenever they have any kind of “intimate contact” without first disclosing that they have HIV. What does the law count as “intimate contact?”  Anything that might perhaps maybe conceivably transmit HIV, no matter how vanishingly small the likelihood might be.  Like, oh, I dunno, spitting on someone.  Making out.  You name it. Well after several years of trying, ALCC and several of its allies finally convinced the Illinois legislature to amend the stupid law into something a bit more reasonable. For starters, “intimate contact” has been struck from the statute.  Instead the bill...

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Big Changes Coming for People with Both Medicaid and Medicare

Let’s just say it: everyone hates managed care.  Yet more and more of us get shoved into it.  The latest victims: people who receive both Medicaid and Medicare.  It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s coming soon. The US Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging states to submit proposals for a Medicare-Medicaid Alignment Initiative.  Illinois has already submitted its plan.  In essence, the feds want people with both Medicare and Medicaid to get all their care through big, new HMOs.  And they want this done sooner rather than later.  They’re encouraging states to have their systems up and running by January 1, 2013. Here in northern Illinois, we started something similar last year, the Integrated Care Program (ICP).  It’s a managed care system for people with only Medicaid.  Like the looming Medicare-Medicaid Alignment Initiative, it too was created...

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A Movement to Reform State Laws

It seems the movement to reform state laws about HIV exposure — you know, the laws that turn people with HIV into felons if they spit on the wrong people — continues to pick up steam. Provincetown’s Edge newspaper just published an interesting story on the subject. It highlights some of the more egregious prosecutions we’ve seen in recent years: Among the most extreme examples of prosecutions … are a Texas man with HIV who received a 35-year prison sentence for spitting at a police officer and an Iowa man with an undetectable viral load who was sentenced to 25 years after a one-time sexual encounter where he used a condom. Another man with HIV in Michigan was charged under the state’s “bioterrorism” law after he allegedly bit his neighbor. It also quotes several legal advocates around the nation...

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Obama Who?

Perhaps you recall last July the White House issued the first ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. In it, the President called for the elimination of HIV criminal transmission laws, saying in part that such laws “may not have the desired effect and they may make people less willing to disclose their status by making people feel at even greater risk of discrimination” (you can read our post about the report here). Well, it seems the report hasn’t had the effect President Obama might have wished. In the past two months legislatures in three states — Nebraska, Utah and Montana — have been entertaining the idea of criminalizing the transmission of HIV. Hooray for regressive social policy! You can read an article about this disturbing trend...

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ADAP to the Rescue!

If you have private health insurance or Medicare, there are important changes in the Illinois AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) that may help you with some of your drug costs. Additionally, ADAP may make it possible for some people to afford comprehensive health insurance coverage under the new Illinois Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (IPXP). First and foremost: The income eligibility limit for Illinois ADAP is 500% of federal poverty. That means for 2011, your annual income must be less $54, 450 in order for you to enroll in any of ADAP’s programs. So let’s dig in and explain. For folks with private insurance: ADAP used to pay drug copays for people with private health insurance, but only if the copays were more than 20% of the drug costs or if a drug’s individual copay was more than $100. But...

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Illinois Civil Unions are Almost here.

The AIDS Legal Council is excited about the recent passage of the Illinois Civil Union Act. Beginning in June of 2011 Illinois same-sex couples will be able to enter into legally-recognized civil unions “with all the obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses.” Before entering into a civil union, it is important for low-income individuals to consider the impact their civil union may have on their public benefits. Because the Civil Union Act is a state law, the changes will be primarily in state programs. But since it’s not always clear which programs are state and which are federal, this guide lists the main public benefits programs accessed by people with HIV and describes what effect, if any, the new law will have on them. INCOME PROGRAMS SOCIAL SECURITY — SSDI...

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