March 17, 2008
ACTION ALERT: TELL NYS LEGISLATORS TO EXPAND COBRA CASE MANAGEMENT
COBRA needs to be fed
COBRA case management is a critical tool that helps poor people with HIV/AIDS get and stay in care and get healthy. But COBRA is in danger. COBRA programs, which provide psychosocial case management for low-income people living with AIDS and HIV, haven't seen a rate increase in almost a decade, even as COBRA providers are seeing more and more people that are poorer and sicker each year. Most COBRA providers are running huge deficits.
Assembly member Dick Gottfried, chair of the Assembly Health Committee, has expressed interest in introducing language into the Assembly budget to provide for the necessary $4 million rate increase to COBRA. The New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute staff has made internal reform proposals that could pay for the increase. These include elimination of two COBRA programs that have failed to meet quality standards ($1 million/year savings) and regulatory streamlining that would allow two-person COBRA teams rather than three-person units and staff redeployment ($2.5-3 million/year savings). But Gottfried needs the support of his colleagues. That's where you can help!
Call your assembly member (State Assembly switchboard: 518-455-4100) and senator (State Senate Switchboard: 518-455-2800) BY FRIDAY and ask them to support a much-needed increase to COBRA case management that won't increase costs. To find out who your Assembly member is click here and for the name of your senator click here. While you've dialed the 518, you can also call Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (518-455-3791) and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (518-455-3191) and tell them why COBRA rate increases are so essential.
A little more about COBRA...
COBRA programs provide access to services that foster independence and self-sufficiency, work to ensure adherence to care and treatment, prevent or delay institutionalization, increase universal access to HIV-related services and promote early intervention.
The Community Health Advisory & Information Network (CHAIN) Project, an ongoing prospective study of a representative samples of persons living with HIV/AIDS in New York City and the Tri-County region of Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties conducted by researchers from Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, reported late last year that psychosocial case management services were the most effective at ensuring entry into medical care and entry into HIV care that meets clinical standards.
"The client needs are more complex then they've ever been," said Michael Clarke, Housing Works' Vice President of COBRA. "It's not only HIV we're seeing, but issues with mental health and poverty. We're trying to do more with less and it's just not enough."