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California health agency ignored law helping impoverished HIV patients

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Bluebear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 07:42 PM
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California health agency ignored law helping impoverished HIV patients
Reporting from Sacramento -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration flouted a six-year-old state law by failing to enact a program intended to provide medical care to impoverished Californians with HIV, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled in a decision made public Thursday.

Writing that the state "has not fulfilled its statutory obligation," Judge James C. Chalfant ordered the state Department of Health Care Services to carry out the program, which is supposed to help people with HIV -- but not AIDS -- obtain treatment through the state's Medi-Cal program for the poor. Medi-Cal already covers people once their illness fully develops, when the cost of care is often much higher.

Hundreds or possibly thousands of people with HIV have lost out on healthcare because the state resisted enacting the law, said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the Los-Angeles-based nonprofit that brought the lawsuit.

Weinstein said the healthcare department "never had any intention of enforcing this law because they thought they had a right to determine which laws they enforce or don't."

http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-me-hiv5-2008d...

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