Eligibility Unchanged for Texas HIV Medicine Program
February 28, 2003
For now, eligibility will not change for the Texas Medication Program that helps low-income Texans get HIV drugs, the state board of health decided Thursday in Austin. Health officials considered reducing the income level requirement for patients who qualify to get state money for the medicine. The proposed rules would have dropped TMP patients' income cap from $17,720 a year, not counting their HIV medicine cost, to $12,404 -- 140 percent of the federal poverty level. That would have made only the poorest of the poor eligible, eliminating about 2,500 patients from the 12,000 now in the program.Adapted from:
Hundreds of Texans spoke out against the proposal in person and through written statements. "Overwhelmingly, folks have said this isn't the way to fix this problem," said Dr. Sharilyn Stanley, associate commissioner for disease control and prevention. The state health board tabled the plan Thursday, effectively killing it. As the Texas Department of Health deals with a $41.5 million deficit in the program, Stanley cautioned that in the coming months there "very likely might be a temporary halt to the enrollment of new clients." New enrollees could be turned away as early as April.
Besides creating a waiting list, other options health officials may look at include redirecting some money within the state health agency; obtaining additional federal money; and implementing a sliding scale co-payment system, Stanley said. They may also try to get cities that receive federal AIDS funds to share some money, and they could end up seeking private donations.
"The program is growing at such a rate that it's outgrowing its budget, and we have to live within our existing budget," Stanley said. Health Commissioner Eduardo Sanchez has said it will be up the Legislature to find money to keep TMP intact. The health department wants more funding for it in the coming two-year budget.
02.27.03; Kelley Shannon
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.