New Jersey Legislature Examining Ways To Avoid HIV/AIDS Medication Copayments in State Budget
New Jersey lawmakers on Tuesday indicated that they are examining ways to avoid proposed co-payments for some people living with HIV/AIDS who receive medications though the state, NorthJersey.com reports. The copayments are part of Gov. Jon Corzine's (D) $29.8 billion spending proposal for the state's new fiscal year and would collect $1.36 million by creating co-payments for HIV/AIDS drugs based on a sliding scale determined by income (Reitmeyer, NorthJersey.com, 4/21). The copayments would affect 9,000 people living with HIV/AIDS who have obtained no-cost medicine from the state because they do not qualify for other assistance programs. Advocates said that the copayments will hurt patients who are already struggling because of the poor economy (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/26).
According to NorthJersey.com, Heather Howard, commissioner of the state Department of Health and Senior Services, met with the Assembly budget committee to review the agency's spending plan and policies. During the meeting, committee Chair Lou Greenwald (D) suggested that state funding for a transportation program that benefits HIV-positive people could be pulled instead of implementing the proposed copayments. Howard said that the department is willing to examine all possibilities. The copayments would not be assessed for the largest group of patients who benefit from the state program because of their low incomes. The proposal is part of a larger effort by Corzine to remove $3 billion in spending from the budget that the Legislature approved in 2008. The Legislature has until June 30 to pass a balanced budget (NorthJersey.com, 4/21).