Cuts to Texas ADAP Program Will Lead to ‘New, Expensive Problems,’ Editorial Says
The Texas HIV Medication Program, the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program, "is in trouble because it's working too well," and "[t]o put it bluntly, not enough people are dying," which has "busted" the program's budget, an Austin American-Statesman editorial says (Austin American-Statesman, 1/30). Currently, the program allows about 12,500 low-income HIV-positive Texans to buy prescription drugs at a greatly reduced cost. 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 have 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 for the program. Current requirements allow beneficiaries who earn up to 200% of the poverty level, or $17,720 annually, to participate in the program. 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. Beneficiaries cut from the program would be given a six-month grace period to find other options (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/21). When the Texas Department of Health on Feb. 26 considers the proposed cuts, it should consider "more humane options," such as increasing the copayments for beneficiaries who are "at the higher end of the income ceiling," the editorial states. It would be a "hefty sacrifice" for the beneficiaries, but "one they say they are ready to take," the Statesman says. If the cuts are instituted, they will create "new and more expensive problems," the editorial says, adding, "Recipients won't disappear. They'll get sick ... and taxpayers will foot the bill when more AIDS patients turn up on welfare rolls or in emergency rooms." States are "having success battling AIDS with help [from] programs that subsidize medications for people who can't afford them," which is why a "permanent solution for such drug programs requires better cooperation between states and federal agencies," the editorial concludes (Austin American-Statesman, 1/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.