August 29, 2012
Thanks to $8.4 million in federal emergency funding, Georgia has eliminated its waiting list for the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP).
The wait list was initiated just over two years ago and at one point was the largest among states with lists. Demand for ADAP was largely prompted by the economic downturn in which people lost their jobs and health insurance. Concurrently, the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) boosted HIV testing initiatives statewide.
"The reduction of our wait list to zero is a remarkable accomplishment, especially considering where we were in 2011," Brenda Fitzgerald, Georgia's public health commissioner, said Friday.
The federal funds also allowed state officials to move more than 350 ADAP patients to an insurance pool for people with pre-existing conditions established under the Affordable Care Act, creating more spots for those low-income patients in need. "Eliminating the waiting list required extraordinary work and ingenuity," noted Patrick O'Neal, director of health protection for GDPH.
Jeff Graham, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group Georgia Equality, commended state and federal officials for their efforts in addressing ADAP wait lists. However, he worries about the long-term viability of the program. Noting that he has seen three waiting lists come and go since moving to Georgia more than two decades ago, "I really hope it doesn't come back for a fourth time."