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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 21, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 25
Make PrEP free, Kamala Harris says
Section One
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Make PrEP free, Kamala Harris says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) debuted health care legislation on June 20 that would provide free PrEP medication to everyone with health insurance. Harris is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

According to Harris's office, one million Americans could benefit from access to PrEP, but only 7% of them currently have a prescription. Truvada, the drug commonly prescribed for PrEP, costs $20,000 per year, Harris's office estimates, putting it out of reach for people without good health care insurance.

PrEP has been found to reduce the risk of contracting HIV by up to 92% for those who take it on a daily basis.

Harris's plan would require insurance companies to make PrEP medications available without copays - in other words, free - to policy holders.

'For too many in our country, lack of insurance coverage and exorbitant costs have put PrEP out of reach - and that needs to change,' Harris said in a statement.

'Nearly four decades since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS crisis that took so many lives and caused countless others to live in fear, we can and will stop the spread of this disease.'

But the drug cost more than $20,000 a year in 2018, according to Harris's office.

Harris's office estimates that just 7% of the one million Americans who could benefit from the drug have a prescription. Her plan seeks to make the drug free for people with insurance and make it more readily available.

In addition to making PrEP available without additional copays, insurance companies would be required by the Harris plan to cover any tests related to PrEP.

The legislation also would create a grant program under the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), that would give money to US states, territories, and tribal governments to increase access to the drug for people without insurance. The bill would allow for $300 million in grants over five years.

The bill also orders the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to work with advocacy groups that represent the LGBTQ community and people of color on a public information campaign to raise awareness of the drug.

Finally the makes it illegal for life insurance, disability insurance, and long-term care insurance companies to charge PrEP users higher premiums.

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Make PrEP free, Kamala Harris says
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