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

JUN 28, 2017 | BRIAN P. DUNLEAVY
President Trump has urged his Republican colleagues in the Senate to show some “heart” in their healthcare reform package, while still achieving what the GOP sees as vital cost control, given the rise in spending seen under the current law: the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) statistics, Medicaid expenditures grew 9.7% to $545.1 billion in 2015, the last year for which data is available, and Medicaid now accounts for 17% of the national healthcare expenditure. Those who support the Senate bill also note that private healthcare spending (private insurance and out-of-pocket expenditures) increased 7.2% to $1,072.1 billion in 2015 (based on CMS figures).
 
CMS expects both Medicaid and private healthcare spending to increase in the coming decade, albeit more slowly, assuming the ACA remains in place.
 
Which, for now at least, is looking more and more likely. As of today, the Senate GOP leaders have decided to put off voting on the bill until after the Fourth of July holiday.
 
Next to images of ACT UP’s Trump protests in MCNY’s “AIDS at Home” exhibit were heart-rending portraits—by the likes of painter Hugh Steers—of AIDS patients, circa 1985-1990, receiving care at home from friends, partners, and loved ones. Certainly, heading into this week, there was some concern these works would be once again relevant (beyond their role in documenting history) in the near future. However, such is the nature of the US political system that major change is no small feat.
 
And, to the activists whose stories are portrayed at MCNY, and their contemporary counterparts, perhaps thankfully so. However, the fight is far from over. Healthcare costs are still rising, and how best to manage them remains up for debate. And as long as people continue to get sick (or, in other words, for the rest of time), that’s not likely to change.
 
Brian P. Dunleavy is a medical writer and editor based in New York. His work has appeared in numerous healthcare-related publications. He is the former editor of Infectious Disease Special Edition. 
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