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What Does AIDS Have to Do With the AHCA? Public Health Watch Report

JUN 28, 2017 | BRIAN P. DUNLEAVY
In cities such as New York and San Francisco, activism on behalf of those with HIV/AIDS dates back to the early 1980s, when the disease was first characterized and diagnosed.
 
And, believe it or not, Donald Trump was a focus of attention even then, long before he became President of the United States.
 
As documented in the exhibit “AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism” at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY), ACT UP, the activist collective formed by author and playwright Larry Kramer, targeted President Trump and, specifically, New York City’s involvement in his real estate activities, as far back as 1989, with protests outside of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue on Halloween of that year. At issue, at the time, was the perceived inaction on the part of the city government in response to the AIDS crisis. According to ACT UP, the city had just “64 beds” allocated to the more than 10,000 homeless individuals with HIV/AIDS in New York (these figures are from the organization); meanwhile, they noted, the city had given Trump and his businesses hundreds of millions in tax breaks—some $885 million since 1980, per The New York Times—to build luxury apartments such as those found in Trump Tower.
 
Today, with President Trump now occupying the White House, those same activists might argue that history is repeating itself—on a national scale. As part of the healthcare reform legislation proposed by members of the Republican caucus in the Senate, some 15 million Americans who receive Medicaid will lose their coverage by 2026 should the bill become law. These estimates, from the Congressional Budget Office score released Monday, reflect changes to the Medicaid program resulting from $772 million in funding cuts proposed by the Senate bill—and are significant because some 40% of those living with HIV/AIDS in the United States are covered by Medicaid. Even those who do not have the disease are concerned: A Medicaid recipient told the Guardian this week that the Senate Republicans “are sentencing me to death” with their proposed cuts to the program.


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