AFC and PAT Statement on Health and Human Services creation of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

January 19, 2018

By Alaina Kennedy

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) and Pride Action Tank (PAT) strongly condemns the announcement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the creation of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division (CRFD) in the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR).  The Trump administration and HHS announced the CRFD will be tasked with “restoring federal enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom.” To those that work and promote health equity we know this act is intended to roll back critical protections that ensured people living with and vulnerable to HIV, women, LGBTQ individuals and other marginalized populations could not be denied medical care.

For more information click on the following links:

AFC and PAT Statement
Link to HHS OCR Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom
Policy Statement: Discriminatory Laws and Policies Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Individuals and the HIV and STD Epidemics

Shutdown watch: House voted to pass continuing resolution.

The third and current continuing resolution (CR) for fiscal year 2018 year expires tonight, January 19, 2018, at midnight. The House passed the CR that would fund the government through February 16, 2018 with a vote of 230 to 197. The resolution includes six year funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) but does not include protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. The bill now moves to the Senate where Democrats have indicated that they will not support any legislative that does not include protections for DACA recipients. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) is preparing for the possibility of a government shutdown and sent GOP members an email imploring them to assign blame to Democrats should funding lapse.

Politico Article: Congress hurtles toward shutdown

Medicaid Work Requirements and 1115 Waivers

CMS released guidance inviting states to request work requirements in in their Medicaid programs. Shortly thereafter, CMS approved the first such waiver request to implement this policy in Kentucky. The Medicaid program is a critical source of health coverage for life-saving care and treatment for people living with HIV.  A majority of Medicaid enrollees already either work or live in working families, and it is precisely because their health care needs are met by the Medicaid program that these individuals are able to be productive.  Rather than improving health outcomes as CMS proposes,  a work requirement as a condition of Medicaid eligibility will harm people living with HIV either by disrupting access to coverage and lifesaving treatment or eliminating health care coverage altogether.  

Governor Rauner has come out in support of work requirements in Medicaid.
Chicago Tribune Article: Medicaid Work Requirements Illinois
Protect Our Care Illinois’ denounce CMS work requirements

Categorized under FederalBudgetWatch.

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