Massachusetts Requests Additional $2.4M in Budget To Prevent ADAP Waiting List
Increases in antiretroviral drug costs and the number of HIV-positive patients in need of drug assistance in Massachusetts could force the state to start a waiting list for its AIDS Drug Assistance Program, according to state health officials, the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 8/11). ADAPs, which are state-managed, federally funded programs, provide medications to low-income, uninsured and underinsured HIV-positive individuals (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/5). Over the past two years, enrollment in the program has more than doubled from 1,538 in 2002 to 3,224 in 2004 and could reach its maximum caseload of 3,385 cases by the middle of next month. Therefore, any additional cases would create a deficit, according to officials, who have requested an additional $2.4 million from the state Legislature to ensure that ADAP services or coverage are not cut. "This is not something that is a luxury," Mark Baker, executive director of the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, said, adding, "It's literally a lifesaving measure for people who don't have insurance or can't pay the full price for drugs" (Associated Press, 8/11). Nine states currently have ADAP waiting lists (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/5).
State Should Increase ADAP Funding, Editorial Says
Although it is "laudable" that the state passed a budget before the start of fiscal year 2005, ADAP funding and other programs' needs are "unfinished business that justif[y] a supplemental budget," a Boston Globe editorial says. Because the state last year "unwisely" reduced the eligibility cap for HIV/AIDS patients seeking Medicaid coverage, an increasing number of HIV-positive people had to obtain medications through ADAP, the editorial says. Although the FY 2005 budget restores the eligibility level, a lack of funding still may force the state ADAP to start a waiting list, the editorial says. Therefore, legislators should "give priority" to increasing funding for ADAP "over more controversial [issues] that could get in the way of speedy approval during an informal session," the editorial concludes (Boston Globe, 8/9).