Anthem Blue Cross sued over new HIV/AIDS drug policy
by Kenny Goldbert, KPBS.org
Anthem Blue Cross’s new policy requiring HIV/AIDS patients to get their drugs by mail order has prompted a lawsuit charging the move is discriminatory.
Jon Jones, which is not his real name, has a PPO plan with Anthem Blue Cross.
A few months ago, the insurer informed Jones of their new policy: It would no longer allow HIV patients to get their medications at a local pharmacy. Blue Cross would only provide the drugs via mail order.
"Why they didn’t include my heart medication, bladder, any of that, I don’t know, but just strictly the four HIV drugs I take," Jones said.
Jones asked Blue Cross for an exemption. The company refused.
The non-profit group Consumer Watchdog is suing the insurer on behalf of Jones and other HIV patients. Staff attorney Jerry Flanagan said the new policy is illegal.
"This is a classic case of Blue Cross treating people different based on their health condition, specifically targeting consumers who are HIV/AIDS positive. And that’s a violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act," Flanagan explained.
A company spokesman said Anthem’s new policy saves money and is compliant with the law.
Jones likes to be able to talk with his local pharmacist about drug interactions. He doesn’t want to give that up.
"I feel very much discriminated against. I don’t know, I feel bullied by it, actually, " Jones said.
The policy is set to begin in March. Consumer Watchdog is asking the court for an injunction to block the change.