With the goal of protecting the economic security of people with AIDS (PWAs) who decide to sell their life insurance policies to obtain cash, a group of leading advocates for PWAs met in Los Angeles on March 22 to draft a set of standards for viatical settlement companies. Following the March meeting, the group of AIDS activists conducted additional research and conferred frequently. In early June, they issued the final set of standards, a "Viatical Bill of Rights," which they urged every viatical settlement company to strictly follow when buying the life insurance policies of PWAS.
Phill Wilson, chair of The National Black Gay & Lesbian Leadership Forum and former director of public policy for AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), served as a member of the group that formulated the viatical code. On behalf of the group, Mr. Wilson asserted that "if you are a person with AIDS and are thinking about selling your life insurance policy, you should seek offers from a minimum of three viatical settlement companies, and make sure that the companies you evaluate have signed this important code."
American Life Resources, the oldest viatical settlement company in the United States, underwrote the efforts of the AIDS leaders who drafted the "Viatical Bill of Rights." Lenny Bloom, a gay rights and AIDS activist who formerly headed APLA, the nation's second-largest AIDS service organization, and who serves as chairman and CEO of American Life Resources, said, "I am pleased that American Life Resources had the vision and the confidence to sponsor an independent group of leaders of many of America's largest and most effective AIDS organizations. These selfless men and women, who have devoted their lives to championing people with HIV and AIDS, have promulgated a code which, if embraced by viatical settlement companies, will go a long way to protect the interests of people at a time when they are likely experiencing emotional and financial stress."
"American Life Resources is proud to announce that we will adhere to every tenet of the new standards, and we will assist in the dissemination of these standards to other viatical companies, AIDS service organizations and state insurance commissioners across America. I hope and expect that this code will become standard operating procedure for every viatical company within a matter of months," he added.
The new standards are reprinted in their entirety in the box above.
"The Viatical Bill of Rights" is the work of the following independent group of AIDS activists: A. Cornelius Baker, Acting Executive Director, National Association of People with AIDS; Jacques Chambers, Manager of Insurance & Benefits Counseling, AIDS Project Los Angeles; Pat Christen, Executive Director, San Francisco AIDS Foundation; Marc Cohen, Vice President, United Foundation for AIDS; Paul DiDonato, Director of Federal Affairs, San Francisco AIDS Foundation; Jim Graham, Executive Director, Whitman-Walker Clinic; Robert Greenwald, Director of Public Policy & Legal Affairs, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts; R. Scott Hitt, md, Chair, Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, Board Member, AIDS Project Los Angeles; Mike Isbell, Associate Executive Director and Chief of Government and Policy Affairs, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC); Larry Kessler, Executive Director, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts: Jean McGuire, Former Executive Director, AIDS Action Council; Phill Wilson, Former Director of Public Policy, APLA, Chair, The National Black Gay & Lesbian Leadership Forum.
Persons interested in obtaining the "Viatical Bill of Rights" can call American Life Resources at 1-800-750-3383 for a free copy.