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Tick-Tock! At Brooklyn Pride, angry activists warn Governor Hochul the clock is ticking for her to protect life-saving healthcare for LGBTQI+ community

Safety-Net providers urge Hochul to act before Pride Month ends to repeal Medicaid pharmacy benefit carve-out that will shutter health clinics, cut services & care for vulnerable New Yorkers

June 13, 2022 Special from Save NY's Safety Net
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As New York political leaders marched in Saturday’s Brooklyn Pride Parade, activists and healthcare providers gathered petitions to sway Governor Hochul to protect life-saving health care for LGBTQI+ New Yorkers, people with HIV, and millions more across the State.

“Governor Hochul and other state elected must understand that Pride is not a day or a month, it is a value that guides safety net organizations serving the LGBTQI+ and TGNCNB communities every day of the year in our mission to provide services to our clients and continue fighting to end the epidemic. If the Governor is truly committed to our communities, she must do everything in her power to reverse the 340B carve-out and prevent the real harm that could occur,” said Matthew Bernardo, president of Housing Works, which is headquartered in Brooklyn.

The posters and pamphlets and stickers at Brooklyn Pride used the hashtag #NoPrideHochul, implying that the Governor has “no Pride” if she not interested in protecting and improving the health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and Gender Non-conforming and Nonbinary New Yorkers.

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The Save New York Safety Net coalition, Equality New York, and many other groups have called on Governor Kathy Hochul to permanently repeal a Cuomo-era plan that will reduce access to life-saving care and services and potentially prolong the fight to end HIV/AIDS. These groups sent a letter to the governor on May 27 demanding such action.

Earlier this year, Governor Hochul pledged to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2024. A few months later, she failed to take action during the State year’s legislative session to cancel a Cuomo plan that will destroy the 340B program and community health centers – a decision that will starve the very organizations on the frontlines of the fight to end HIV/AIDS of the resources they need to serve the sick and vulnerable.

The coalition urged the Governor to use Pride month as an opportunity to take action by issuing an executive order canceling the Cuomo carveout. To hold the governor accountable, the Save NY’s Safety Net coalition created a countdown clock that will run throughout Pride until she repeals this dangerous carve-out and have begun protests outside her Manhattan office and at a fundraiser.

Community health organizations like Housing Works are able to serve our LGBTQI+ communities who are living with or at risk of HIV and/or AIDS, homelessness, and substance use disorder because of the 340B pharmaceutical benefit. 340B savings provide us with funds to deliver programs and services central to the New York State Blueprint to End the Epidemic, such as programs to provide Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and help people with HIV remain undetectable so they do not pass the virus on to others,” Bernardo explained.

The carve-out, conceived by former Governor Andrew Cuomo before the coronavirus pandemic, disintegrates care for the 2.1 million individuals served by community health centers and Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program clinics statewide, many of whom are uninsured or underinsured, low income, and/or are Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

These safety-net facilities offer affordable, life-saving care to low-income patients living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic conditions. If implemented, the carve-out will force providers to close 32 clinics across New York—many of these in Brooklyn—and patients will face life-threatening cuts to health services and delays accessing vital care and medications.

The HIV crisis is not over. The number of New Yorkers newly diagnosed with HIV decreased by 51% between 2011 and 2020, but the epidemic disproportionately impacts communities of color. The rates of new HIV diagnoses among Black and Latino individuals were 8.1 and 3.9 times higher, respectively, than the rate for white individuals. New York City remains the epicenter of HIV in the state, accounting for 78% of cases.

With more protests planned, activists at Brooklyn Pride urged the Governor to engage on this issue and show some real pride by protecting the health of LGBTQI+ communities in Brooklyn and across the State.

Save New York’s Safety Net is a statewide coalition of community health clinics, community-based organizations and specialized HIV health plans committed to serving vulnerable New Yorkers across the state, ending the epidemic, and saving the Medicaid drug discount program. For more information, please visit: https://www.savenysafetynet.com/.


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