North Carolina Legislature Should Consider Increasing Funding for State’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program, Raleigh News & Observer Editorial States
An increase in funding for the North Carolina AIDS Drug Assistance Program, "even in what will surely be a tight budget, is a compassionate investment in human lives that the state would be smart to make," a Raleigh News & Observer editorial states. Although antiretroviral drugs used to treat people with HIV/AIDS are expensive, the cost "pales in comparison to the cost of hospital care for sufferers," the editorial notes (Raleigh News & Observer, 1/4). North Carolina's eligibility rules for its ADAP program are the most stringent in the nation; only HIV-positive people who are at 125% of the federal poverty level -- or who make up to $11,075 annually -- are eligible for state assistance (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/3). In comparison, ADAP programs in Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina admit people who make up to 300% of the federal poverty level, or $26,580. North Carolina's restrictive criteria are causing people to avoid being tested for the disease, some AIDS advocates say, because they know they cannot afford the treatment, the editorial says, adding, "An even more distressing result is that AIDS is continuing to spread." According to the News & Observer, there were 1,242 new HIV cases reported in the first nine months of 2002, 20 more than during the same period in 2001 and 135 more than during that period in 2000 (Raleigh News & Observer, 1/4). In 2002, the state contributed $8 million to its ADAP program, in addition to its $9 million federal allocation, but the funds were not enough to keep the program going; enrollment was closed and a waiting list was started. In the fall, the program received a $3 million critical-need grant and was able to clear its 817-person waiting list. However, enrollment for the program has again frozen and 200 people are on the waiting list (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/3). Some AIDS advocates say that the Legislature should allocate $13 million in the upcoming budget, the News & Observer states. Drugs to treat HIV infection "have been remarkably successful in keeping AIDS patients alive and productive members of society," the editorial states, concluding, "What is needed now is an expanded commitment by the state to adequately fund the drug assistance program" (Raleigh News & Observer, 1/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.