December 29, 2008

December 29, 2008
New Law Endangers HIV Patients

Welcome back to another day in my life. I hope you had as great of a weekend as I did.

I know many of you were traveling back from wherever you spent your Christmas. I hope you had a safe trip. Gary and I stayed home this year since I have spent so much time traveling with AARP/Divided We Fail and HIV events. It was nice to be able to relax and not worry about traveling, packing and entertaining.

Unfortunately, I have some possible bad news for people with HIV and AIDS. Seems like Georgie boy has been up to his old tricks again.

The right of conscience rule passed by the Bush administration December 18 protects health workers who refuse care that violates their personal beliefs, reports The Washington Post. Originally targeted at abortion procedures, the final rule includes a broad scope of scenarios, such as treating HIV patients who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered.

The right of conscience regulation cuts off federal funding for any state or local government, hospital, health plan, clinic or other entity that does not accommodate doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other employees, even secretaries and janitors, who refuse to participate in care they find ethically, morally or religiously objectionable. That could include servicing same sex couples or offering end of life care and birth control.

“Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience,” said Mike Leavitt, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, which issued the regulation.

According to the article, the rule, supported by abortion opponents and other conservative critics, will cost more than $44 million to implement and gives more than 584,000 health care organizations until October 1 to turn in their letters of compliance. Organizations that do not comply could have their funds cut or be required to return previous funding.

Senator Patty Murray (D–Wash.) introduced a bill last month with Senator Hillary Clinton (D–N.Y.) to repeal the rule. “We will not allow this rule to stand,” Murray said. “It threatens the rights of patients across the country.”

Qudos to Senators Murray and Clinton for standing up for what is right as usual.

So I urge all of you, regardless of your HIV status, to contact your political representatives and complain about this new law.

I will get off my soapbox now. But thanks for letting me voice me outrage at stupidity and ignorance.

All of us are wrapping up 2008 as I type this. It is also a time of reflection on the past year while forming hopes for 2009. What are your memories and hopes? Drop me a line and let me know.

Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

Big bear hug,

Daddy Dab