Employer-Based Health Insurance Premium Payment (EB-HIPP) Program for ADAP Clients

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On May 15, 2018, the Office of AIDS (OA) and AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) announced the implementation of an employer-based health insurance premium payment (EB-HIPP) Program. New and existing ADAP clients who are enrolled in an employer-based health insurance plan are now eligible to receive premium assistance for their portion of their insurance premium.

EB-HIPP will pay medical and dental premiums, and it will also pay for vision premiums that are included in a medical or dental premium.  EB-HIPP It will also pay the even pays for medical out of pocket (MOOP) expenses!

Eligibility for EB-HIPP is based on the following requirements:

  • Be enrolled in ADAP
  • Be employed and enrolled in an employer-based insurance program
  • Employment verified with paystub dated within last three months
  • The employer must agree to participate in the EB-HIPP program

Medicare Part D Premium Payment Program (MDPP) Now Offers Medigap Premium Payment Program for ADAP Clients

Effective June 14, 2018, the Office of AIDS (OA) and AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) has also expanded their MDPP Program benefits to include payment of Medigap premiums. Medigap insurance is private insurance that helps pay for some of the health care costs that are not covered by traditional Medicare, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. New and existing MDPP clients will now be eligible to receive assistance with their Medigap insurance premiums, as well as medical out of pocket (MOOP) expenses for Medicare outpatient claims.

Note: EB-HIPP must pay the client’s portion of their premium in order for the client to receive MOOP benefits

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Latinx LGBTQ+ Mental Health

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Each Mind Matters1(EMM) recently collaborated with a group of LGBTQ+ community leaders and stakeholders to come together and create informational materials on mental health issues faced by Latinx LGBTQ+. The materials focus on three key segments: young adults, older adults, and providers working with Latinx youth.

Latinx LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health Provider Fact Sheet2

This fact sheet helps providers working with Latinx LGBTQ+ youth address the complex connections that can have an impact on a young person’s life, such as sexual orientation, gender identity, race/ethnicity, and immigration status. The fact sheet provides relevant resources and best practices within a culturally responsive framework.

EMM also created a fully bilingual in Spanish and English resource online, which covers key terms for providers working with Latinx LGBTQ+ youth, things to consider as mental health professionals serving Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrant youth, and seeking benefits. At this time there are no printed copies available; however, the pamphlet is available free to download3.

EMM website is a resource for mental health and LGBTQ+ topics:

 

  1. https://www.eachmindmatters.org/
  2. https://emmresourcecenter.org/resources/latinx-lgtbq-immigrant-youthjovenes-inmigrantes-latinx-lgbtq-fact-sheet
  3. https://emmresourcecenter.org/system/files/2018-02/Latinx%20LGBTQ%20Immigrant%20Youth_Provider%20Fact%20Sheet_0.pdf
  4. https://www.eachmindmatters.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Latinx_A_Brief_Guidebook.pdf
  5. http://www.eachmindmatters.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Be-True-Be-You-LGBTQ-Booklet-DIGITAL.pdf
  6. http://www.eachmindmatters.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/LGBTQ-Mental-Health-Aging-Guide-DIGITAL.pdf

It is tax time again.

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2018With all the recent tax reform changes, many people have many questions. Intuit has created a nice article that explains how the changes affect 2017 taxes (taxes you actually file in 2018) and changes that take effect next year during the 2018-tax filing season (taxes you file in 2019).  Below are some highlights, important dates, and resources to help you file your taxes.

Tax Penalty for Not Having Health Insurance

Individuals without qualifying health coverage for all or part of 2017 may still have to pay a tax penalty for the tax year 2017. A tax preparer or tax prep software may assist in calculating any penalty for not having health insurance.

For the tax year 2017, the penalty is the greater of 1) 2.5% of total household adjusted gross income, OR 2) $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, up to a maximum of $2,085 per family. The penalty amounts have not been set for the 2018 tax year and beyond.

In limited situations, some individuals may be exempt from the tax penalty.

Medical Expenses

If you itemize deductions in 2017, you may be able to deduct qualifying medical expenses to the extent they exceed 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income. See the IRS Publication for a full list of qualified medical expenses.

Deadline to File 2017 Taxes is April 7, 2018

The deadline to file your personal tax return for the tax year 2017 is Tuesday, April 17, 2018. (Why the change? Because April 15 falls on a Sunday, and Monday is Emancipation Day, observed in Washington D.C., the home of the IRS.) If you are not ready to prepare and file your return by the deadline, you may request a six-month extension with the IRS.

Free Tax Filing Assistance in San Francisco

Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA)

Provides free tax services in English and Spanish. Call 2-1-1 (available 24/7 in 150 languages) to make an appointment.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

Provides free tax return preparation for qualifying taxpayers. Visit the hyperlink above to locate a VITA or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program near you.

Earn it! Keep it! Save it! A program of the United Way

Provides free tax services to qualifying taxpayers. Visit the hyperlink to find out about eligibility, what to bring to your meeting and the program sites near you.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide

Offers free, individualized tax preparation for low to moderate-income taxpayers – especially those 50 and older – at more than 5,000 locations nationwide. Find a location near you by searching the link.

HEALTH TIP:   U = U Got Questions?

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Copy of Instagram Post – Untitled DesignU = U means undetectable equals untransmittable. This slogan refers to the fact that there is effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV when the virus is reduced to undetectable levels.

An undetectable viral load for people living with HIV means they will not transmit HIV to their partners. Active engagement in treatment as prevention is a key to maintaining an undetectable viral load and preventing HIV transmission. ‘Treatment as Prevention’ (TasP) is defined as any HIV prevention method that uses antiretroviral therapy (ART) to decrease the risk of HIV transmission to a sexual or needle-sharing partner. ART reduces HIV in blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and rectal fluid to very low levels, and as a result, lowers HIV transmission. ART can even lower viral load to undetectable levels.

Evidence from real-world studies including PARTNER and Opposites Attract shows the affect TasP and ART have on preventing HIV transmission in the PARTNER study that there were ZERO transmissions out of 58,000 condomless sex acts between people with undetectable HIV viral loads and their HIV-negative partners. In the Opposites Attract study, there were no transmissions out of 17,000 condomless sex acts between men. Since the advent of combination therapy, there have been no confirmed reports of anyone with an undetectable viral load sexually transmitting HIV.

An important aspect to TasP is regular viral load testing. Testing is recommended about 2-4 times a year for people who have a stable undetectable viral load. More frequent testing may be necessary and it is recommended that people speak with their doctors about appropriate care, treatment, and testing.

Evidence shows that with regular testing and continued treatment, people living with undetectable HIV viral loads may let go of fears about transmitting HIV to their partners. Instead, we can all focus on the fact undetectable does equal untransmitable.

References:

Cohen MS, Chen YQ, McCauley M, et al. Antiretroviral therapy for the prevention of HIV-1 Transmission. New England Journal of Medicine. 2016;0(July 18):1-10. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1600693#t=article

Del Romero J, Castilla J, Hernando V, Rodríguez C, García S. Combined antiretroviral treatment and heterosexual transmission of HIV-1: cross sectional and prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal. 2010;340:c2205. http://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/340/bmj.c2205.full.pdf

Frieden TR, Foti KE, Mermin J. Applying Public Health Principles to the HIV Epidemic—How Are We Doing? New England Journal of Medicine. 2015;373(23):2281-2287. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMms1513641#t=article

i-Base. Q&A on the PARTNER study: how to interpret the zero transmission results. 2016; http://i-base.info/qa-on-the-partner-study/. Accessed 07/18/2016.

Loutfy M, Tyndall M, Baril J-G, Montaner JS, Kaul R, Hankins C. Canadian consensus statement on HIV and its transmission in the context of criminal law. Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology. 2014;25(3):135-140. http://www.hivlawandpolicy.org/resources/canadian-consensus-statement-hiv-and-its-transmission-context-criminal-law-mona-loutfy

Loutfy MR, Wu W, Letchumanan M, et al. Systematic review of HIV transmission between heterosexual serodiscordant couples where the HIV-positive partner is fully suppressed on antiretroviral therapy. PloS one. 2013;8(2):e55747. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0055747

Rodger AJ, Cambiano V, Bruun T, et al. Sexual activity without condoms and risk of HIV transmission in serodifferent couples when the HIV-positive partner is using suppressive antiretroviral therapy. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2016;316(2):171-181. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2533066

Vernazza P. HIV-infizierte Menschen ohne andere STD sind unter wirksamer antiretroviraler Therapie sexuell nicht infektiös. 2008. http://www.aids.ch/de/downloads/pdfs/EKAF-Statment_2008-05-089.pdf

Vernazza PL, Bernard EJ. HIV is not transmitted under fully suppressive therapy: The Swiss Statement – eight years later Swiss Med Weekly 2016; http://bit.ly/SwissMedWeekly  Accessed Sept. 4, 2016, 146.

Stay the Course, the Fight is Not Over! – – National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

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Across the United States on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, there will be individuals and organizations participating in National Black HIV/Aids Awareness Day to promote HIV education, testing, community involvement and treatment in black communities. This year’s theme is “Stay the Course, the Fight is Not Over!”

Education

The statistics show there is a need for this day of awareness. In the United States, there were 972,813 individuals living with HIV, 42 percent of which are African American. Of the 40,040 newly diagnosed cases, 44 percent are African American. In 2016, there were 16,010 individuals living with HIV in San Francisco. Twelve percent of this population was African American. In the same year, there were 223 newly diagnosed HIV cases in San Francisco, 15 percent were African American individuals. Good news—there was a small percentage drop in newly diagnosed HIV cases between 2015 and 2016 in San Francisco.*

Testing

San Francisco Aids Foundation offers free, confidential HIV testing. You can find other testing sites in San Francisco here.  If you live outside of San Francisco, find a testing site near you.

 Community Involvement

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day March & Vigil the Black Brothers Esteem, a prevention and support program of San Francisco AIDS Foundation has planned a march, which starts at 5:00 pm on the steps of San Francisco City Hall, and ends with the vigil at 6:00 pm at the African-American Arts and Cultural Center (726 Fulton Street).

Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition is planning an event on Wednesday, February 7 at 9:00 am based on a Facebook Event.

In honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Black Brothers Esteem (BBE) invite you to an open soirée celebrating black excellence and resilience in the gay community. The Royal Affair!  For a night of elegance, live entertainment, live music, food, and drinks. The event is entirely free and attendees are encouraged (but not required) to dress up and/ or wear a splash of purple. We will also be offering free on-site HIV testing. All attendees must be 21+

Friday, February 9, 2018, between 6:00 pm-9:00pm @ Mr. Smith’s, 34 Seventh Street, San Francisco

Treatment

HIV Treatment works! The CDC says more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and that staying in care and engaged in treatment helps people stay healthy, protect others, and live healthier lives.

*based on data HIV Epidemiology San Francisco 2106 Annual Report & 2015 Annual Report

HEALTH CARE TIP: Adult Dental Benefits

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Adult dental benefits were fully restored to Midi-Cal recipients effective January 1, 2018, as part of the 2017-2018 Budget Act. Now major services such as partial dentures, root canals on back teeth and gum treatment are covered. Along with an array of general maintenance services such as cleanings, x-rays and fillings and more, Western Center on Law & Poverty has a one-page fact sheet on the restored adult dental benefits.

Still, ongoing access to Denti-Cal services and providers is an issue in California. In 2015, the state appointed a State Dental Director to address Denti-Cal access. To access Denti-Cal and take advantage of these adult dental benefits enroll in Medi-Cal through Covered CA.

Reminder: Covered CA open enrollment ends Wednesday, January 31, 2018.

Importance of the First Premium Payment for 2018 Health Coverage

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First, the deadline to enroll for 2018 health coverage is Wednesday, January 31, 2018, so enroll now.

Once signed up for a 2018 health plan through the marketplace, it is very important to pay the first month’s premium on time to activate coverage. If there are issues paying the first month’s premium payment in full, the Health Insurance Premium Payment Program may be able to provide financial assistance. Also, consider reaching out to the insurance company to understand payment options and/or grace periods. Once again, the first premium payment needs to be paid, or there is a chance of losing 2018 coverage.

If enrollment is not complete by January 31, 2018, there will not be another opportunity to enroll unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. If you or someone you know is HIV+ and a San Francisco resident, PRC may be able to help with problems accessing health coverage.