ADAP Status Now: What You Can Do
Summary: This short review of the current state of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program tells how you can get involved.
Each month, almost 700 low-income Americans living with HIV apply to become clients of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which pays for anti-HIV medications to treat those without health insurance (or without adequate coverage). Unlike with Medicaid and Medicare, ADAP does not require that a person be disabled by AIDS in order to be eligible -- meaning that treatment can be provided early enough to prevent disability and serious illness. However, consistent under-funding by the federal government has led states to limit access to the program in an effort to balance their budgets.
On June 8, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) announced that almost 2,000 people living with HIV are on ADAP waiting lists in 10 states. Although most of these are now receiving medications through a special patient assistance program announced by President Bush in June 2004, that program is set to expire this September. No funding has been allocated to continue it, so states expect that these individuals will have to get back in line for ADAP -- at the risk of treatment interruptions that could lead to HIV drug resistance. The remaining 453 people on waiting lists in eight states are not covered by the President's Initiative.
Eleven states have capped enrollment (which means anyone new will be put on a waiting list) or other restrictions, such as: Fuzeon waiting lists; no coverage for HIV/hepatitis C co-infection treatment; requiring clients to make co-payments and/or re-apply to the program every six months; and narrower definitions of who is eligible for the program. In April, the National ADAP Working Group announced that an additional $303 million will be needed to cover ADAP's new clients in fiscal year 2006 -- and $150 million of that is needed right now. President Bush has proposed a scanty $10 million increase for ADAP in fiscal year 2006 -- only about 3 percent of what will be needed next year.
Activist efforts, mainly coordinated by the Save ADAP committee of the AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition (ATAC), have won some victories at the state level and consistently pressure the federal government to fully fund ADAP. "The ADAP crisis has rallied one of the most energized grassroots efforts in a long time," says Ryan Clary of Save ADAP and Project Inform. "Anyone who is troubled by waiting lists for lifesaving drugs can and must do something about it, from calling and writing their elected representatives to joining SAVE ADAP and being part of a national movement to increase ADAP funding."
For the latest information on the ADAP crisis, see NASTAD's ADAP Funding Watch, posted online every two months at http://www.nastad.org , or visit the Title II Community AIDS National Network (TII CANN) website at http://www.tiicann.org
Join Save ADAP by visiting http://www.atac-usa.org and clicking on Save ADAP, or contact Ryan Clary at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415.558.8669x224.
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Copyright 2005 by John S. James. See "Permission to Copy" at: www.aidsnews.org/canhelp