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Iowa, Other States Scramble to Meet HIV/AIDS Prescription Needs

September 30, 2009

As Congress considers reauthorizing the federal Ryan White CARE Act, eight states have waiting lists for their AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. Iowa cleared an earlier backlog of more than 100 HIV/AIDS patients during 2004-2005 with a state appropriation, but since then its ADAP funding has remained level or been reduced. Meanwhile, the number of patients seeking help from ADAP has been climbing. Roughly 100 Iowans with HIV are newly diagnosed each year.

In order to secure treatment for people on Nebraska and Iowa ADAP waiting lists, both states have been tapping patient-assistance programs run by AIDS drug manufacturers. Nebraska has also created collaborative programs with the medical community as a stop-gap while there is a waiting list.

"We are seeing about a 10 percent increase in the number of individuals who come into the program each year, and our funding is just not keeping pace with that," said Steve Jackson, program manager for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

"With each medicine, the person needs to apply with the appropriate pharmaceutical company for patient assistance," explained Holly Hanson, Ryan White Part B program manager for Iowa's Department of Public Health. "Each program could have different deadlines and different renewal times, making the entire process much more labor-intensive for both the patient and the case workers."

"I think we will be OK through March 31, when the Ryan White fiscal year ends," Hanson said. "But I'm really worried that if we receive flat-funding from the feds and the state, I don't know that we could get through our next Ryan White grant cycle with even just the people we currently have enrolled. I guess we need to either come up with a new national health care plan or increase funding."

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Excerpted from:
Iowa Independent (Grinnell)
09.28.2009; Lynda Waddington

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