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Insurer Sued On Behalf Of Local HIV Sufferer

THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE

A nonprofit consumer advocacy group has filed suit against Anthem Blue Cross on behalf of a local HIV patient affected by the insurance company’s decision to require use of mail-order pharmacies for AIDS drugs.

Anthem Blue Cross recently notified patients with its commercial insurance that they would need to begin ordering their medications by mail on March 1.

Consumer Watchdog filed the suit on behalf of “Plaintiff John Doe” an HIV-positive San Diegan with Blue Cross insurance since 1995. Attorney Jerry Flanagan, who is representing Consumer Watchdog, said the patient’s name was not provided out of privacy concerns.

The suit, which seeks class-action status, claims that forcing HIV patients to purchase their medications from mail-order supply houses, rather than local specialty pharmacies, violates their civil rights by targeting them “on the basis of their specific chronic disease.”

Anthem has said it worked to make sure that the transition goes smoothly, even offering a hardship waiver program for patients who qualify.