Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Announces Passage of Legislation Protecting Access to HIV/AIDS Medications

Albany, NY – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) announced that her legislation (A1619-A/S1001-A) to prohibit insurers from restricting or delaying access to antiretroviral medications for the treatment of people with HIV/AIDS passed the Assembly. The bill also passed the State Senate where it is sponsored by Brad Hoylman-Sigal.

“Advancements in medicine have ensured that an HIV diagnosis is no longer a death sentence, but uninterrupted access to treatment and prevention medications is key,” said Assemblymember Rosenthal. “Prior authorization disrupts the treatment plans established by providers and their patients. Managing HIV/AIDS requires a deliberative approach than other illnesses and doctors must be able to switch medications as needed, without delay.”

Once signed into law, the measure would prohibit the use of prior authorizations by health insurance plans when antiretroviral prescription drugs are prescribed. This class of medications helps to prevent HIV infection and transmission and manages HIV/AIDS infections by controlling growth of the virus, protecting the immune system, lessening symptoms and more. However, successful treatment may require people to switch medications often and try new combinations of drugs. Even minor delays can trigger viral resistance, thereby eliminating certain medications as effective treatment options for the patient.

Through antiretroviral therapy, an increasing number of patients living with HIV have achieved an undetectable viral load. When this occurs, the amount of HIV present in a person’s blood becomes too low to measure, stopping the disease from progressing and preventing transmission to partners, provided that the patient continues their medication regimen.

If signed into law, this measure would align New York with other states like California, Hawaii, Louisiana and Texas where prior authorization is already prohibited for drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS. Easing access to these medications, including pre-exposure prophylaxis, commonly known as PrEP, will enable better health outcomes and greatly reduce costs in the years ahead.

“In 2014, New York State announced a goal of ending the AIDS epidemic in our state once and for all, and this legislation will help bring us one step closer to achieving that goal,” said Assemblymember Rosenthal. “By increasing access to these lifesaving medications, we can prevent future HIV transmissions and ensure that those living with HIV can continue to live long and healthy lives.”