A gay man from Louisiana is worried Donald Trump could kill him and thousands of others living with HIV if the president-elect makes good on a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Anthony Basco, 25, is considering moving to Seattle with a friend following Trump’s ascent to the Oval Office. He says Seattle has better state funding available for HIV medication.
Basco says shortly after Trump’s win, he received a message from a close friend who is also HIV-positive.
“He was telling me how he basically already told his parents and they were encouraging him to move west.”
“I always kind of wanted to move there; I didn’t realize I would ever need to,” Basco told Daily Xtra in a phone interview from Baton Rouge.
Basco, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2013, is concerned about Trump’s repeated promise to cut the Affordable Care Act, which forces insurance companies to insure people with preexisting conditions.
It’s unclear what Trump’s now planning for the act — he appears to have flip-flopped on his promise to outright repeal it. In a Nov 13, 2016, interview with 60 Minutes, Trump suggested he might maintain some coverage.
“We’re going to repeal and replace it,” he says.
“It will be just fine — that’s what I do. I do good job, you know I mean I know how to do this stuff,” Trump said.
But Basco’s concerns don’t stop with the Affordable Care Act. He’s also concerned about US Vice-President-elect Mike Pence.
Anthony Basco shared his concerns on Facebook on Nov 8, 2016. (Facebook)
In 2000, Pence wrote that he wanted to use money from the Ryan White CARE Act for gay conversion therapy. The act is the country’s largest federally funded program for people living with HIV and AIDS, and has covered HIV drugs for those unable to afford them since it was passed in 1990.
“That’s just frightening,” Basco says.
AIDS United says it's concerned too.
In a written statement, the organization warns cuts could be on the horizon.
“Attempts to flat fund or cut funding to the Ryan White Program are likely during the next 2 to 4 years and it is up to us as HIV advocates to stem the advance of those who threaten to limit access to HIV treatment and support services,” the statement reads.
Jeremiah Johnson, an HIV research and policy coordinator with the Treatment Action Group, says he and other advocates are also concerned.
“There is still a very real threat that Trump and congressional Republicans will find ways to slash federal funding for state Medicaid programs, leaving millions of our nation’s poorest citizens without viable access to healthcare coverage,” Johnson said in a message to Xtra.
Johnson said Pence’s appointment as vice-president is also raising alarm bells.
“His oppressive stance on LGBTQ rights, most notably highlighted by his efforts to pass a religious freedom bill in response to gay marriage, may also spell trouble for communities disproportionately impacted by HIV.”
Basco says if the Ryan White program, which is a back-up to Obamacare for many, is cut he doesn’t know what he will do to pay for his medication, which costs $2,500 a month.
“That’s our safety net,” he says.
Basco says he and others feel the queer community is “literally under attack.”