Texas Health Department To Hold Public Hearing on ADAP Eligibility Criteria
The Texas Department of Health today will hold a public hearing to discuss the future of the Texas HIV Medication Program, the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program, after officials last year approved tighter financial requirements for the program, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (Huff, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 1/16). Currently, the program allows about 12,500 low-income HIV-positive Texans to buy prescription drugs at a greatly reduced cost; in some cases, patients pay as little as $15 per month for medications that would otherwise cost $1,149 a month. But Health Department officials expect a $34 million shortfall in the program's budget over the next two-year cycle; the program's annual budget is $58 million. As a result, health department officials proposed revised eligibility requirements under which people earning more than 140% of the federal poverty level, or $12,400 annually, would no longer be eligible. Current requirements allow beneficiaries who earn up to 200% of the poverty level, or $17,720 annually, to participate in the program (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/16/02). If approved, the new requirements would effectively cut 2,500 people from the program's rolls by August 2005 and keep up to 50 new applicants from qualifying each month, the Star-Telegram reports (Fort Worth Star Telegram, 1/16). Beneficiaries cut from the program would be given a six-month grace period to find "other options," health officials said. State Rep. Garnet Coleman (D) said that the state Legislature should "decide what to do," adding, "There is no reason in a life and death situation that the elected officials that come from each district in the state are not making that decision." He said, "I don't believe we ought to decrease the eligibility level because it threatens people's lives and literally we could end up with some dead Texans based on this decision" (Associated Press, 1/16). Dwayne Haught, manager of the program, said that officials had planned to make a decision this month, but due to the "time it has taken to analyze" the public response to the issue, the vote has been delayed until a Feb. 27 board meeting (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 1/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.