Times-Picayune (New Orleans) (02.25.2014)
The Times-Picayune reported that US District Judge Brian Jackson issued a temporary restraining order barring three Louisiana insurance companies from dropping people who were using Ryan White HIV/AIDS program funds to help pay premiums for their healthcare plans. Jackson ordered the restraining order in response to a suit filed by Lambda Legal, an HIV/AIDS advocacy organization, on behalf of an HIV-positive man against Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) of Louisiana. Three insurers—BCBS, Vantage Health Plan, and Louisiana Health Cooperative—had planned to drop coverage for people using grant money to cover their healthcare premiums on March 1.
In response to the restraining order, lawyers from all three insurance companies promised that they would not change or drop any policies during the next two weeks, at which time the judge would hear arguments on whether the companies would have to accept Ryan White funds. Approximately 2,400 Louisiana residents received Ryan White assistance for health insurance premiums.
BCBS openly stated that the company would stop accepting any third-party payments for healthcare plans because of concerns about fraud, and was not singling out HIV/AIDS patients. Vantage Health Plan and Louisiana Health Cooperative planned to follow BCBS’s lead. BCBS Lawyer Richard Tyler acknowledged that there was no evidence the Ryan White program engaged in fraudulent activity.
The three companies comprised more than half of the private insurance market in Louisiana and were the only companies offering healthcare plans in Louisiana through the new federal marketplace mandated by the Affordable Care Act.