Atlanta group joins federal complaint against HIV drug costs

An Atlanta AIDS group joined a multi-state effort Tuesday to reduce the costs of HIV drugs by two insurance firms, asserting that the high prices discriminate against people living with the disease.

The AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta filed civil rights complaints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services against Humana and Cigna, asserting that the companies’ are charging customers an excessively expensive share of the costs for HIV drugs.

The complaint, filed jointly with the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard School of Law, asserted that the companies charge the high costs to discourage participation in their insurance plans by people with expensive chronic conditions such as AIDS.

The federal complaints, coordinated with similar filings in six other states, follow research showing that people with HIV have difficulty obtaining their medications under the two companies’ plans offered under the Affordable Care Act. The complaints were filed under the Act’s anti-discrimination provisions.

The advocacy groups said they found other insurance companies with more reasonable costs.

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“Advances in HIV treatment mean that people living with HIV can lead long and productive lives, but only if they have continuous and uninterrupted access to HIV medications,” said Dr. Melanie Thompson, ARCA’s principal investigator who led the local effort.

Cigna declined to comment. Humana has yet to respond to requests for comment today by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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