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Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Insurers Will Pay for HIV Screening if Gov. Signs Bill

In late August, the California Legislature passed landmark legislation introduced by Valley Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, who represents Burbank, Glendale, North Hollywood, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village and Van Nuys. Assembly Bill 1894 the first bill of its kind in the nation , would require California health insurers to cover routine HIV screening. The bill awaits Gov. Schwarzenegger’s signature to become law. AIDS Healthcare Foundation served as sponsor of the bill. According to the California Office of AIDS, approximately 40,000 California residents are infected with HIV and don’t know it. The lack of routine HIV testing puts more people at risk for infection, the sponsors of the bill believe. “This important bill creates an environment in which testing will become routine and more Californians will know their HIV status, get linked to care as needed, and have an overall better quality of life,” Assemblyman Krekorian stated. “Studies have shown that when individuals know their HIV status, those found to be positive take steps to decrease the risk of passing their HIV infections on to others. AB 1894 is a straightforward solution to a growing public health dilemma. It helps pave the way to encourage widespread and routine HIV testing throughout California ,something the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) first recommended nationwide nearly two years ago. It is prudent legislation that will save lives.” One reason the CDC’s suggestions haven’t been heeded is because it has not been established who will pay for HIV tests, which can cost as little as $20. Requiring insurers to cover the cost of routine HIV testing makes this a non-issue. Due to advances in medicine resulting in HIV patients living longer, the cost of caring for a patient with the disease for a lifetime is estimated to top $600,000. Just last month, the CDC announced that HIV cases had gone up by 56,000 annually in the U.S., a 40 percent increase, which may or not be due to better tracking of the disease. To date, only 40 percent of the U.S. population has ever received an HIV test, according to the CDC. Kaiser Donations The Santa Clarita Valley received a big boost Sept. 4 when Kaiser Permanente donated $40,000 in community benefit grants to a handful of nonprofits in the area. During a ceremony that took place in Kaiser’s Santa Clarita Medical Offices, the health maintenance organization awarded $5,000 to Carousel Ranch in support of its Fitness Therapy and Nutrition Education Program for disabled children and their parents; $5,000 to Child and Family Center in support of its school-based mental health services program; $15,000 to Samuel Dixon Family Health Center in support of its School-Based Health Screening Program for lower-income children and families; $10,000 to the Foundation for Children’s Dental Health in support of its Healthy Smiles program for preschool-age children of lower-income families; and $5,000 to WeSPARK in support of its Mental Health Program expansion. According to Kaiser, the funds were given out to help the communities in which the public lives and works. Each nonprofit organization Kaiser awarded a grant to places an emphasis on outreach to underserved populations. Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Keller attended the grants presentation ceremony. Staff Leader Northridge Hospital Medical Center has named pediatrician Dr. Hooshang Semnani president of its medical staff. As president, Semnani will be responsible for enforcing the medical staff bylaws and rules and regulations. He will also serve as chair of the Medical Executive Committee. “I look forward to working closely with Northridge Hospital’s esteemed medical staff each of whom is committed to providing compassionate and safe care while upholding our reputation for quality,” Semnani stated. Since he joined the medical staff of the 411-bed nonprofit hospital in 1990, Semnani has served as medical director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and chairman and vice chairman of the Department of Pediatrics. In addition, Semnani has received two “Appreciation Awards” from Northridge Hospital’s Trauma Team and a “Teacher of the Year” honor by Northridge Hospital’s Family Practice Residency Program. The physician has also been a candidate for the “Best Professor of the Year” award at the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he’s served as assistant clinical professor of the Pediatric Division of Critical Care for 20 years. Dr. Semnani also belongs to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society of Critical Care. To boot, he’s published and presented extensive pediatric information to share with colleagues. Staff Reporter Nadra Kareem can be reached at (818) 316-3124 or at nkareem@sfvbj.com

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