HIV patients get temporary reprieve with lawsuit

By By MELINDA DESLATTE

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A federal judge is temporarily prohibiting three insurance companies from refusing to accept premium payments from a federal program that helps HIV and AIDS patients cover costs.

U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson issued a two-week restraining order Monday. The judge planned a Tuesday hearing to consider a long-term prohibition.

The order affects Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, the Louisiana Health Cooperative and Vantage Health Plan. They are the only companies offering insurance coverage around Louisiana through the federal marketplace.

Blue Cross planned on March 1 to stop accepting the payments, citing fraud concerns. The other companies planned to follow.

Lambda Legal, an HIV/AIDS advocacy group, filed a lawsuit on behalf of John East, who has Blue Cross insurance with premium payments covered by the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program.

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