Nevada AIDS Advocates Warn State Might Institute ADAP Waiting List Because of Funding Shortfall
The Nevada AIDS Drug Assistance Program might have to institute a waiting list for the program because of a potential funding shortfall, AIDS advocates in the state are warning, the Las Vegas Sun reports (Ball, Las Vegas Sun, 2/2). ADAPs are federal- and state-funded programs that provide HIV/AIDS-related medications to low-income, uninsured and underinsured HIV-positive individuals. President Bush in June 2004 ordered the immediate release of $20 million to purchase AIDS-related drugs for states with ADAP waiting lists at that time, which did not include Nevada (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/14). Gov. Kenny Guinn's (R) proposed budget does not include an increase in state funding for the program, despite requests for more money from the Nevada Health Division, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports. The agency asked for $4.5 million for the program over the next two fiscal years, but the governor's budget proposal keeps funding at the current level of $2.7 million, according to the AP/Chronicle. The program also receives about $6 million in federal funds (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 2/2). Last year, the program had a $925,000 shortfall and had to seek emergency funds from the Clark County Ryan White Planning Council to continue operation, according to the state health division, the Sun reports. The ADAP's state funding has not increased since it began in 1997, despite increases in the number of HIV/AIDS patients living in Nevada, Dr. Jerry Cade, director of HIV services at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas, said, the Sun reports. About 870 HIV-positive Nevadans currently receive antiretroviral drugs through the program, and an estimated 220 additional people are expected to need help over the next two years, according to Martha Framsted, a health division spokesperson. In addition to an estimated 9% annual increase in the number of AIDS cases, the price of medications also is expected to increase by about 6% annually, according to the Sun.
Waiting List Possibility
Although Nevada's ADAP currently does not have a waiting list, some believe a funding shortfall would force the state to create one, the Sun reports. Such a waiting list could restrict patients' access to antiretroviral drugs, which could be "dangerous," according to the Sun. "The key to treating this disease in this day and age is to keep people on their meds," Cade said (Las Vegas Sun, 2/2). "Aside from what (the state funding shortfall) does to these people, it is not cost-effective," Cade said, adding, "They are unable to work, and they take up a lot more resources." Greg Bortolin, a Guinn spokesperson, said that if a funding increase is "important enough," the Legislature will include an increase in the budget, according to the AP/Chronicle (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 2/2).