New Miss. Prescription Drug Policy Limits Number of Brand-Name Antiretrovirals HIV-Positive Beneficiaries Can Receive
A policy that limits the number of brand-name prescription drugs Mississippi's Medicaid program beneficiaries can receive is set to take effect July 1 and could limit the antiretroviral drug regimens of HIV-positive people in the program, according to the HIV Medicine Association, the AP/Biloxi Sun Herald reports. Under the new policy, beneficiaries will be allowed five prescriptions per month -- two brand-name drugs and three generic medications. The current policy allows beneficiaries to receive up to seven prescriptions per month -- five of any type and two additional drugs that require prior authorization. According to HIVMA, most HIV/AIDS patients need at least three antiretrovirals to effectively treat the virus. In a letter sent to Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) on Monday, HIVMA said the state's new Medicaid prescription drug limit "leaves Mississippi's poorest and sickest residents with no option other than substandard HIV care. Substandard care for people with AIDS has deadly consequences." The group added that generic antiretrovirals currently are not available. HIVMA Executive Director Christine Lubinski said the policy also might violate federal law, adding that she sent a copy of the letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt (Byrd, AP/Biloxi Sun Herald, 6/15). HIVMA member Harold Henderson, director of infectious diseases clinics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, said, "Patients receiving inferior treatment are also more likely to develop a drug-resistant viral strain, which is harder, more costly or even impossible to treat" (HIVMA release, 6/14). Barbour on Tuesday said he had not seen the letter and declined to comment. An exemption to the prescription drug limit can be made for patients under age 21, according to Francis Rullan, a spokesperson for the Mississippi Division of Medicaid. Mississippi's Medicaid program provides health coverage to 780,000 elderly, disabled and low-income residents, about one-quarter of the state population (AP/Biloxi Sun Herald, 6/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.