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HIV/AIDS Lawsuit

A class-action lawsuit alleges Blue Cross of California is illegally targeting HIV/AIDS patients with a new program that bars them from getting their medications at local pharmacies.

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SAN DIEGO – HIV patients are speaking out against Blue Cross of California over a change in coverage that allegedly bars them from using local pharmacies to get their medications.

“It’s ridiculous, I think it’s the worst thing they could do to a person living with HIV,” said HIV patient Jay Conner.

Starting in March, HIV and AIDS patients under the program will be receiving their medications via mail and not through their local pharmacy.

A consumer watchdog filed a class action lawsuit in San Diego’s Superior
Court alleging Blue Cross of California is discriminating against HIV and AIDS patients with its new program.

“If my medicine is coming to my house and the people that live with me are there to receive it, that’s my privacy being violated,” said Conner, who isn’t currently covered by Blue Cross of California and still has the option to visit her pharmacist under her insurance.

“For some people living with HIV, outside of their doctor, the pharmacist is probably the only person that they have to talk to about HIV. To take that away, they might as well just take the meds all together,” said Conner.

Jay Conner

Jay Conner

The insurance company responded with a statement:

“Beyond the cost savings and confidentiality this provides members needing these specialty drugs, evidence-based research shows that the specialized clinical care provided by the specialty pharmacies is associated with patients being more likely to take critical prescription drugs as directed.”

Company officials also said a growing number of patients under their plan already get their medications mailed to them.

SAN DIEGO — A class-action lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court alleges Blue Cross of California is illegally targeting HIV/AIDS patients and other seriously ill consumers with a new program that bars them from using local pharmacies to get their medications.

Health lawsuit, medical courtUnder the new program, HIV/AIDS patients’ insurance policies will no longer cover medications at local pharmacies, according to the suit filed Friday by Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, D.C., and Santa Monica.

HIV/AIDS patients will instead be required to purchase their prescription drugs from a mail order pharmacy, while Blue Cross members who do not suffer from one of the targeted conditions under the same policies will continue to enjoy full access to the pharmacies of their choice, according to the suit.

A representative of Blue Cross of California — doing business as Anthem Blue Cross — could not immediately be reached for comment.

Consumer Watchdog claims the change in programs is discriminatory under state civil rights law and potentially devastating for HIV/AIDS patients, many of whom rely on their local pharmacist to monitor potentially life-threatening adverse drug reactions.

According to the lawsuit, Blue Cross’ change will also cause consumers to lose access to drug discounts available only at retail pharmacies.

In addition to the serious health consequences of the program, patients’ fundamental right to privacy is also threatened because HIV/AIDS medications will be delivered to homes and businesses, according to the complaint.