Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Texas Medicaid Program Should Cover Antiretroviral Drug Resistance Testing, Editorial Says
Texas' Medicaid program should cover antiretroviral drug
resistance testing because as the system works now, doctors are "forced to prescribe medicines blindly," a Houston Chronicle editorial states (Houston Chronicle, 4/20). Resistance testing is used to measure a drug's efficacy against a patient's specific strain of HIV. Texas is one of several states that does not cover the tests under its Medicaid program, but officials are currently considering proposals to add coverage (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/15). Paying for the tests "could help doctors avoid having to search by trial and error for the right combination of drugs" to fight HIV progression and may help taxpayers "avoid massive charges for Medicaid AIDS patients' ineffective drug prescriptions," the Chronicle states. Without testing, people with AIDS "can become sicker than they need to, leading to a downward spiral of lost jobs, housing and quality of life," the editorial adds, noting that blindly changing drug combinations also gives HIV more time to mutate and develop resistance to medications. The editorial says that state officials "should tackle concerns that some doctors will overuse the tests, thus needlessly shifting funds away from treatment," and they should set up monitoring protocols to determine how well the tests fit into overall AIDS case management. "Testing is not cheap. But then, not testing can be more expensive," the Chronicle concludes, noting that if antiretroviral drugs no longer work, using them is "money down the drain" (Houston Chronicle, 4/20).
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