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Cigna Violates ACA, Discriminates Against Members With HIV/AIDS, Suit Says

FIERCE HEALTHPAYER
http://www.fiercehealthpayer.com/story/cigna-violates-aca-discriminates-against-members-hivaids-suit-says/2015-04-29

Cigna has been violating the Affordable Care Act and discriminating against its members with HIV/AIDS by requiring those individuals to get medications from its mail-order pharmacy, according to a class action lawsuit filed by Consumer Watchdog.

Filed in federal court in Florida, the lawsuit claims that mailing HIV/AIDS drugs violates patient privacy because the packages could be seen by others or be delivered to the wrong address. What's more, mailing meds isn't a reliable method to guarantee members get their drugs on time and prevents the members from communicating with a pharmacist.

"What's the good of an insurance policy if you can't get the medications you need to stay alive when you need them or are forced to risk your health and privacy to use it?" Consumer Watchdog Lead Staff Attorney Jerry Flanagan said in a statement

Consumer Watchdog also alleges that Cigna discourages people with HIV/AIDS from enrolling in their plans by making it hard for them obtain necessary medications and thus violating the ACA, which states insurers cannot discriminate against individuals with certain medical conditionsFierceHealthPayer previously reported.

"Patients should have a choice about how they obtain their life-saving medications and Cigna should do the right thing and follow the lead of other health plans that have now provided that choice," Edith Kallas of Whatley Kallas, a law firm that also filed the lawsuit, said in the same statement.

This isn't the first time the insurer has faced issues related to its members with HIV/AIDS. Last year, Cigna said it would redesign its HIV prescription drug benefits for plans sold on the health insurance exchange in Florida after Consumer Watchdog alleged it was discriminating against that member population.

Elsewhere, Consumer Watchdog settled a similar lawsuit against UnitedHealth, which agreed to lift its mail-order requirement for HIV/AIDS meds.

To learn more:
- here's the lawsuit and statement

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