New Mexico AIDS Drug Assistance Program Faces $1.3 Million Shortfall for Current Fiscal Year
New Mexico's AIDS Drug Assistance Program is facing a $1.3 million shortfall in its budget for the current fiscal year that ends June 30, and officials may have to institute a waiting list for the program, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports (Davis, Santa Fe New Mexican, 3/15). ADAPs -- which are supported with both state and federal funds -- provide HIV/AIDS-related medications to low-income, uninsured and underinsured HIV-positive individuals. According to an "ADAP Watch" released by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors in January, 15 states have waiting lists or access restrictions for their ADAP programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/27). In its last session, the New Mexico Legislature failed to pass a bill to allocate $2 million to pay for the state's ADAP. In the past, the Legislature has provided "strong" funding for HIV/AIDS-related services, according to the New Mexican. The state has said it will not have the funds to pay for newly developed antiretroviral drugs that come on the market; however, Don Torres, the state's AIDS director, said that the state Department of Health is "adamantly against" instituting an ADAP waiting list, according to the New Mexican. In 2002, the state provided HIV/AIDS drugs to 587 people at a cost of approximately $1,000 per person. Although the program averages about 25 new clients each year, the department has added 60 new clients in the past six months.
Jessica Sutin, health adviser for Gov. Bill Richardson (D), said that the governor realizes the importance of the program and considers HIV funding a priority, according to the New Mexican. After consulting with Sutin and representatives of HIV/AIDS groups, the health department decided to start spending federal ADAP money that it normally would not spend until the state's fiscal year ended on June 30 as a "short-term fix," according to the New Mexican. Torres said that New Mexico receives less federal money for HIV/AIDS programs because the funding level is partially calculated based on the state's number of AIDS cases. According to Torres, New Mexico focuses on providing antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people to prevent them from progressing to AIDS (Santa Fe New Mexican, 3/15).