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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.

Comments

Avatar for user 'DocsWife'

DocsWife | January 15, 2013 at 3:19 p.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

Can we get the WHOLE story here?! Has it occured to anyone that Blue Cross has done this because these particular drugs are unbelieveably expensive and maybe the by-mail pharmacy saves the insurance company money? Whether or not that means more profit for them or lowered costs to the consumer, let's not jump to any erroneous conclusions. (No, I DON'T work in the insurance or medical industries.)

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Avatar for user 'politicaljules'

politicaljules | January 19, 2013 at 2 a.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

I have been fighting this mail order fight for a long time. Our daughter has cystic fibrosis and she takes 40 different pills a day along with inhaled medications. We have been forced to leave our long time local pharmacy and have been strong armed into low quality mail order pharmacies. Twice we were sent pills that should have been in a cooler with ice packs. They came in a cardbord box that was wet and faling apart because they put ice packs in a cardbord container.

Another time a liquid medication spilled out of the container to the inside of the box.

Many times the box looks as though it had been open before it got to us. The last straw was a mail order delivery that sat in the hot 100+ Texas sun for 8 hours or more. The medication went bad.

Now we have injectable antibiotics that she needs to fight a life threatening infection. We got her last dose at CVS, but have been told that is only mail order now. Not our choice at all. Who knows what kind of conditions it will go through before it gets to us. Will you inject your child with a colorless liquid that comes from a faceless pharmacy?

Mail order pharmacies are cheaper because it is a huge warehouse of drugs with maybe one pharmacist, or technician. The public eye is shielded, and they just get a call center. Bad deal.

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