In just 1 minute and 37 seconds (I timed it) I added my voice to a chorus demanding that the Department of Health and Human Services take seriously the health care needs of people with HIV. If you’re a quick reader, it might take you less than a minute. Here’s the online petition that must be signed by January 31....and here’s what’s at stake:

In 2014 a lot of people with HIV are going to get shunted into one of two health care systems. Very low-income individuals who currently get their health care and drugs through Ryan White and the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) will become eligible for Medicaid and will eventually have to switch over. People with incomes greater than 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level will become eligible for subsidized health insurance available on the state-based health insurance exchanges.

This expansion of Medicaid coverage and the formation of the new health insurance plans is going to be governed by a new set of rules that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is currently devising. At the heart of it is a set of standards called the Essential Health Benefits. These are the mandatory minimum types of coverage that every health exchange plan must offer. Experts think these rules will also form the backbone, or the bare minimum, that many Medicaids will also follow.

Right now it’s not looking good for people with HIV. People could have strict limitations on the kinds of drugs available to them. Many types of supportive services could get cut. Access to specialists could also be restricted. The worst part is that much of what we thought the Federal government would mandate, is now getting left to the states to decide. God help those living in places like Mississippi or South Carolina. Even folks in states that typically take good care of their HIV-positive citizens could see service cuts and limitations imposed.

People living with HIV and their advocates are urging HHS to rethink this dangerous plan. I hope you’ll add your two cents and sign the petition.