California Bill Requiring HMOs To Provide HIV-Positive Patients With ‘Standing Referrals’ to AIDS Specialists Takes Effect
California HMOs must now ensure that patients with HIV/AIDS who request treatment by doctors specializing in the disease get access to "standing referrals" to see such specialists, after a bill (AB 2168) originally signed in September 2000 by Gov. Gray Davis (D) went into effect on Thursday, according to an AIDS Healthcare Foundation release. Implementation of the law was delayed as state officials, California physicians and other groups worked to write regulations that define what constitutes an HIV/AIDS specialist (AHF release, 1/16). Qualified physicians must meet at least one of four criteria, such as being credentialed by the American Academy of HIV Medicine, which co-sponsored the original bill with AHF (Reuters Health, 12/26). Other qualifications include having a minimum amount of current, up-to-date clinical experience with HIV/AIDS patients and participating in HIV/AIDS-specific continuing education programs. "We urge all people with HIV in HMOs to demand competent care by specialists," AHF President Michael Weinstein said. The bill's author, former Assembly member Martin Gallegos (D), said that the law "should markedly improve access to -- and the quality of -- care for people living with HIV/AIDS. This bill and these regulations will help save lives" (AHF release, 2/24).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.