In the face of highly restrictive and discriminatory health insurance plans within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplaces, the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI) is undertaking a new advocacy campaign to enforce the health care rights guaranteed by the ACA for people living with HIV and other chronic conditions. Drawing upon CHLPI’s extensive research and new avenues for civil rights enforcement under the ACA, the campaign aims to strengthen protections in the health insurance Marketplaces and eliminate insurer practices that prevent vulnerable patients from receiving the care and treatment they need. These discriminatory practices include refusing to cover key medications and requiring high cost sharing for all medications used to address certain health conditions.
CHLPI, along with state partners in seven states, has filed formal administrative Complaints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR is charged with enforcing the ACA’s new anti-discrimination regulations in state ACA health insurance Marketplaces. “CHLPI is using the OCR process to shine a light on discrimination occurring under the cloak of supposedly neutral insurance plan benefit design. When an insurer requires chronically ill patients to pay a disproportionate share of the cost of medication it violates federal law” says Robert Greenwald, CHLPI’s faculty director and clinical professor of law at HLS. “These are landmark complaints that will benefit everyone looking to receive equitable, comprehensive health care through the Marketplaces by helping to define anti-discrimination law at a time when insurers are covering less and less.”