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San Diego Lawsuit Says Blue Cross Illegally Targeting HIV/AIDS Patients

A class-action lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court alleges Blue Cross of California is illegally targeting HIV/AIDS patients and other seriously ill consumers with a new program that bars them from using local pharmacies to get their medications.

Under the new program, HIV/AIDS patients' insurance policies will no longer cover medications at local pharmacies, according to the suit filed Friday by Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, D.C., and Santa Monica.

HIV/AIDS patients will instead be required to purchase their prescription drugs from a mail order pharmacy, while Blue Cross members who do not suffer from one of the targeted conditions under the same policies will continue to enjoy full access to the pharmacies of their choice, according to the suit.

A representative of Blue Cross of California -- doing business as Anthem Blue Cross -- could not immediately be reached for comment.

Consumer Watchdog claims the change in programs is discriminatory under state civil rights law and potentially devastating for HIV/AIDS patients, many of whom rely on their local pharmacist to monitor potentially life-threatening adverse drug reactions.

According to the lawsuit, Blue Cross' change will also cause consumers to lose access to drug discounts available only at retail pharmacies.

In addition to the serious health consequences of the program, patients' fundamental right to privacy is also threatened because HIV/AIDS medications will be delivered to homes and businesses, according to the complaint.

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