National ADAP Educational Conference to Discuss Budget Shortfalls That Limit Access to HIV/AIDS Drugs for Uninsured
The AIDS Drug Assistance Program is unable to meet the needs of the rapidly growing group of uninsured HIV-positive Americans enrolling in the program and could leave "thousands" of HIV-positive patients without necessary medications or treatments, according to a National ADAP Monitoring Project report that is being discussed this week at the ADAP Working Group's 2002 National ADAP Educational Forum in Washington, D.C. According to the report, which was released in April and was based on a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the National Alliance for State and Territorial AIDS Directors and the AIDS Treatment Data Network, although the national ADAP budget increased by $86 million during fiscal year 2000, the program is running out of money in more and more states. ADAPs provide prescription drugs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam for HIV-positive individuals who are uninsured and could otherwise not access such drugs. However, at least 10 states, including Georgia, Maine and Texas, have had to restrict access to antiretroviral drugs or cap program enrollments because of limited funding.
'Fundamental Changes Needed'
"We knew that uninsured and underinsured, low-income HIV-positive Americans would be in trouble as a result of shortfalls in ADAP funding in the last two years. We have been expecting waiting lists and inability to treat patients. We didn't expect to see quite this many stranded patients so quickly," William Arnold, ADAP Working Group Chair and Title II Community AIDS National Network CEO, said. ADAPs served approximately 140,000 HIV-positive patients, the majority of whom were African-American or Latino in 2001. "The AIDS advocacy community and politicians (at the state and federal level) must work together to increase awareness of the fundamental changes needed to ensure the future of state ADAPs," Arnold said, adding, "The White House needs to listen to our documented need, work with Congressional leadership, and make a commitment to securing the future of state ADAPs -- ensuring AIDS patients across America access to treatment" (ADAP Working Group release, 5/8). The report will be presented today by representatives from NASTAD and KFF. The conference, which began yesterday and continues through Saturday, will also feature Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), who will speak on the current Congressional AIDS and ADAP funding (Martin Medical Services release, 5/8). A kaisernetwork.org HealthCast of the public release of the report and the plenary session of the conference, which will feature Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) discussing congressional efforts to expand Medicaid benefits to the predisabled with HIV disease, will be available online after 9 a.m. ET tomorrow.