Mississippi Trying To Obtain Federal Funding To Help HIV/AIDS Patients Dropped From State Medicaid Program
Mississippi state health officials are attempting to obtain federal funds to subsidize prescription drug costs for HIV/AIDS patients and others who were dropped from the state Medicaid program, the AP/Biloxi Sun Herald reports. Approximately 65,000 patients who had been eligible for Medicaid under the Poverty Level Aged and Disabled category in the state were dropped from the program last spring because of legislation that eliminated the PLAD category. An unknown number of the 65,000 individuals dropped from Medicaid are living with HIV/AIDS, according to state Medicaid spokesperson Francis Rullan. Most of the 65,000 patients will qualify for Medicare, which the federal government fully funds, the AP/Sun Herald reports. State Medicaid officials have applied to the federal government for waivers to provide care to about 17,000 patients who need chemotherapy, kidney dialysis, anti-psychotic drugs, or anti-rejection medications following organ transplants. The state expects to receive approval for the Medicaid waivers this week, and HIV/AIDS patients may qualify for the waivers if their conditions meet specific requirements, according to Rullan. In addition, Rullan said that Mississippi state Medicaid Director Warren Jones and state Health Officer Brian Amy have "started talks" to identity federal money that could fund existing prescription drug programs under the Mississippi State Department of Health's AIDS Drug Assistance Program, according to the AP/Sun Herald.
State HIV/AIDS Programs
During a state House public hearing to review July Medicaid expenditures, state Medicaid Deputy Director Bobby Moody said that the state health department covers a larger number of drugs and services than Medicaid. However, some HIV/AIDS advocates said that prescription drug benefits under ADAP would be reduced. "They're greatly cutting back on the formula to what drugs will be offered to people with HIV in order to make room for the people coming off of Medicaid," Judy Barber, who serves on the state ADAP advisory board, said. Some not-for-profit organizations said they are preparing for "a deluge of calls" from HIV/AIDS patients in need of assistance because they were dropped from Medicaid. "We are definitely worried that we'll be getting a lot more people calling in and that our money won't last all year," Ella Tardy, chair of the Mississippi Episcopal AIDS Committee, said. Although the number of HIV/AIDS patients requiring assistance might increase this year because of Medicaid restrictions, Tardy said she expects the same amount of funding to be available this year. "We are always getting calls," she said, adding, "We haven't seen an increase yet. We're certainly anticipating more people needing help." According to Leonard Williams, executive director of Grace House -- an organization that provides transitional housing for HIV/AIDS patients -- residents who lost Medicaid drug coverage are "scrambling, trying to find out how they're going to get their prescriptions filled" (Hardwell Byrd, AP/Biloxi Sun Herald, 8/31).