April 2, 2013
Image from vocal-ny.org.
The news coming out of Albany about the state budget is a mixed bag for people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic conditions. The good news, as VOCAL New York also recently reported, is that the Governor recently signed a budget agreement that would eliminate the proposed requirement that would force people living with Hep C to use mail order pharmacies to receive their medications.
This is a sure victory for people living with Hep C, as mail order prescriptions can often delay or disrupt the treatment regimen. This is especially true for people who are homeless or precariously housed, who do not have a fixed address and are thus unable to receive packages and mail. What's more, mail order pharmacies can also severely compromise a person's overall health, as mail order pharmacy programs circumvent the patient/doctor relationship and assessment of long-term progress or problems.
Thankfully, under the new policy signed by Governor Cuomo, patients enrolled in managed care plans, as well as Medicaid recipients, will have the option to use a local pharmacy or a mail order pharmacy. This policy will greatly aid the 200,000 New Yorkers living with Hep C -- many of which attended the Hepatitis C Legislative Awareness Day last month in Albany.
On the other hand, the bad news coming out of the state budget is that the final state budget did include a 5.5% cut to the AIDS Institute. The Institute, which has become a great example of how to effectively treat and prevent HIV/AIDS for state residents, provides New Yorkers with syringe exchange programs, supportive housing, and testing programs.
Stay tuned for more updates.