HIV/AIDS Advocates Urge Congress To Support $303M Increase in Federal Funding for ADAPs
HIV/AIDS advocates, patients and experts on Thursday during a legislative briefing on AIDS Drug Assistance Programs urged members of Congress to support a $303 million increase in federal funding for ADAPs, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 5/6). ADAPs are federal- and state-funded programs that provide HIV/AIDS-related medications to low-income, uninsured and underinsured HIV-positive individuals (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/21). Advocates at the briefing asked legislators to add their signatures to a letter sent by Reps. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) to House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee Chair Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio). The letter, which already has been signed by more than 100 House members, asks the House to approve the requested $303 million in additional funding. Advocates said a minimum of $303 million is needed in fiscal year 2006 to provide antiretroviral drugs to all HIV-positive people in the United States who need them. Federal and state funding shortfalls are making it "increasingly likely that thousands of low-income HIV patients will suffer" and not have access to antiretroviral medication, the advocates said, according to CQ HealthBeat. Louisiana AIDS Director Beth Scalco said the estimate does not include increases in the amount or types of medications available to HIV/AIDS patients. Scalco discussed the "variety of pressures" facing ADAP directors across the country, including rising drug costs and increases in the number of patients who need coverage, factors that are forcing many states to adopt cost-containment measures, including waiting lists, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 5/6).
The congressional briefing was hosted by a coalition of HIV/AIDS advocacy groups and drug companies, including AIDS Action, AIDS Alabama, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the American Academy of HIV Medicine, Log Cabin Republicans, the National ADAP Working Group, the National AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, The AIDS Institute, Title II Community AIDS National Network, Abbott Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Roche. Speakers at the briefing included Jeanne White-Ginder, mother of the late Ryan White, who was one of the first children to be diagnosed with HIV in the United States and for whom the Ryan White CARE Act is named; Rep. Donna Christian-Christensen (D-V.I.); Integrated Minority AIDS Network President Dr. Keith Rawlings and Scalco. "Four years of inadequate federal ADAP funding have culminated in a genuine ADAP crisis which has worsened each year," National ADAP Working Group Director Bill Arnold said, adding, "The ADAP emergency is now a year older. We hope that this year Congress and the White House will address this escalating crisis at the earliest possible moment" (TAI release, 5/5).
A total of 627 HIV-positive people were on state ADAP waiting lists as of March, according to a report released last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors. As of March, 11 states -- Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming -- had waiting lists, and 10 other states had implemented other measures, including three states that capped ADAP enrollment and four states that reduced or restricted ADAP drug formularies, according to the report, titled "National ADAP Monitoring Project 2005 Annual Report." Overall, ADAP budgets rose 11% in fiscal year 2004 over FY 2003 levels, which allowed 38 states to provide more HIV-positive people with medication, the report found. Approximately 32% of the funding increase is attributable to increases in state budgets, 33% came from drug manufacturers' rebates and 5% came from an increase in the federal earmark. Federal funding for ADAP is not determined based on the number of people who need prescription drugs in each state or the cost of medications because ADAPs are a discretionary program funded through the federal Ryan White CARE Act (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/21).