Raleigh News & Observer Examines N.C. Efforts To Increase ADAP Eligibility
The Raleigh News & Observer on Tuesday examined the North Carolina Legislature's efforts to increase the number of HIV-positive residents who are eligible for its AIDS Drug Assistance Program (Bonner, Raleigh News and Observer, 6/13). 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, 3/31). According to the News & Observer, North Carolina law says that single people who have an annual income lower than $12,250 -- 125% of the federal poverty level -- are eligible for the federal drug assistance program, which has the "strictest" income qualification in the country. The state Legislature is considering a proposal to raise the income eligibility limit to $24,500 annually. The state Senate last month approved the higher income limit in its version of the state budget, and Democratic state House leaders included the increase in their budget proposal, which is expected to be voted on this week. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R- N.C.) said he hopes that funding increases from the reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act -- the largest federal program that helps pay for medicine, medical services and other assistance for HIV-positive people -- will help the state cover the additional 800 to 900 HIV-positive residents who could be eligible for ADAP if the income eligibility limit is increased. Three thousand HIV-positive people in North Carolina already are enrolled in the program. The reauthorization of the CARE Act could provide about $6 million more annually for North Carolina in federal ADAP funds, according to Burr. State funds account for about $12.1 million of the program's $30.4 million annual budget, according to the News & Observer. "North Carolina has one of the fastest-growing HIV new-case populations in the country, and, in many cases, that is a rural explosion," Burr said (Raleigh News & Observer, 6/13). Burr last month called for changes in funding calculations under the CARE Act that would affect the distribution of funding to states without many large urban areas, such as North Carolina. Currently, several bills have been introduced in congress that would amend and reauthorize the CARE Act (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/17).
North Carolina's "unrealistically" low maximum income eligibility for ADAP is "hampering" the program's effectiveness and putting antiretroviral drugs "out of reach" for many people living with HIV/AIDS, a Greensboro News & Record editorial says. For many, "qualifying [for the program] often means quitting jobs," the editorial says. However, raising the income eligibility limit would "encourage" people to "return to the work force, as well as serve others who need help," according to the editorial. "Now is a good time to re-examine ADAP" because expanding eligibility "offers North Carolinians a better chance for help," the editorial concludes (Greensboro New & Record, 6/9).