Mississippi Medicaid To Continue Providing HIV/AIDS Drugs Despite New Prescription Drug Policy Limit
Mississippi Medicaid officials on Thursday said they will collaborate with the state Department of Health to continue providing antiretroviral drugs to state residents who need them, despite new regulations that cut the number of brand-name prescriptions patients can access each year, the AP/Biloxi Sun Herald reports (Wagster Pettus, AP/Biloxi Sun Herald, 6/30). Under the new policy, which began Friday, Medicaid beneficiaries are allowed five prescriptions per month -- two brand-name drugs and three generic medications. The old policy allowed beneficiaries to receive up to seven prescriptions per month -- five of any type and two additional drugs that require prior authorization (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/16). However, former state Medicaid Executive Director Warren Jones, whose last day was Thursday, said in a news release, "There will be no interruption of the 1,600 HIV/AIDS patients receiving their customary drug regimen." Few details about the statement were given, and the program's spokesperson was not available for comment, according to the AP/Sun Herald (AP/Biloxi Sun Herald, 6/30). The HIV Medicine Association last month sent a letter to Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) saying the new prescription drug limit would leave Mississippi's "poorest and sickest residents with no option other than substandard HIV care. Substandard care for people with AIDS has deadly consequences." The letter said that generic antiretrovirals currently are not available. HIVMA Executive Director Christine Lubinski said the policy also might violate federal law and noted that she sent a copy of the letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/16).
The New York Times on Saturday examined the new coverage limits (Dewan, New York Times, 7/2).