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Anthem Blue Cross Backs Off On Controversial Policy

— Anthem Blue Cross has decided to suspend a controversial policy that would have required HIV patients to get their medications by mail. The move comes in response to a class action lawsuit filed by the non-profit group Consumer Watchdog.

Aired 2/20/13 on KPBS News.

Anthem Blue Cross is suspending a program that would have prevented HIV/AIDS patients from getting their medications from local pharmacies.

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Anthem's corporate headquarters in Newbury Park, California.

In their suit, the group said the mail-order-only drug policy violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act. That law prohibits targeting people based on their health condition.

Thousands of HIV/AIDS patients statewide would have been affected.

Consumer Watchdog attorney Jerry Flanagan said the policy would have disrupted the care these patients get from their local pharmacists.

"Blue Cross to their credit responded correctly," Flanagan explained. "They said, we hear those concerns, let's suspend the program, and figure out a way to make sure patients privacy and health is not put at risk."

The program was set to go into effect March 1st.

In a letter sent to policyholders, Anthem Blue Cross said patients can continue to use their local pharmacy until further notice.

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