Health Law

Lambda lawyer explains why he and five others quit president's HIV/AIDS council

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A lawyer at Lambda Legal says frustration with the Trump administration led him and five others to resign from a presidential advisory group that provides recommendations on treatment and prevention of HIV.

In a column for Newsweek, Lamba Legal’s HIV project director Scott Schoettes says President Donald Trump “simply does not care” about their concerns. Schoettes also spoke with the National Law Journal (sub. req.) and the Washington Post about his decision to resign from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, known as PACHA.

Schoettes ticks off the reasons why he lost confidence in the president. During the primaries, Trump refused to meet with HIV advocates. The day the president took office, the Office of National AIDS Policy website was taken down. Trump still hasn’t appointed anyone to lead the AIDS policy office.

The final straw, Schoettes wrote, was the American Health Care Act, legislation passed by the House of Representatives that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and reform health care.

Before the Affordable Care Act, people with HIV who had no insurance through their employer were priced out of the market, he said. And ACA’s Medicaid expansion increased access to the program for people with HIV.

“The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and—most concerning—pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease,” Schoettes writes.

A White House spokesperson said the Trump administration is “working diligently on health-related policies that will improve the lives of all Americans.” The spokersperson said staff members with the White House Domestic Policy Council have met with HIV/AIDS advocates, and Trump has hired an HIV/AIDS and infectious disease expert, Katy Talento, who will advise the Domestic Policy Council.

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