April 15, 2010
Senate President Michael Waddoups has backed away from plans to discontinue state support for the Ryan White program for low-income HIV/AIDS patients.
Legislative leaders postponed reauthorizing the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), saying such patients will eventually be covered under the new federal health care plan. But after learning that Utah calculates its $1.3 million state match using in-kind dollars or services the state already provides -- and not hard cash -- Waddoups said he saw no reason not to go forward with reauthorization.
"I was just trying to make sure we're spending our money in the most prioritized way," said Waddoups (R-Taylorsville).
State Epidemiology Director Jennifer Brown said those state-provided services include: $611,000 in Medicaid-paid HIV/AIDS care; $388,000 in drug assistance for HIV-positive prisoners; and $361,000 in administrative costs, including supplies and salaried workers who run the program in addition to their other duties.
Were the program to expire, state health officials estimated they would have saved $45,000, the cost of one of the salaried workers. However, Utah would have lost out on $3.8 million in federal funds, officials said.
"If it's something they can do with matching services then I have no problem with the grant continuing," said Waddoups.
An estimated 450 Utahns are covered under ADAP, which provides treatment and medicines. The income limit for participation in Utah's ADAP is 250 percent of the federal poverty level -- about $27,000 for a single-person household.
Sean Camp, an assistant professor of social work, said he enrolled in ADAP for two months last year to cover gaps in coverage he did not anticipate after taking a teaching job at Utah State University. "If it hadn't been for Ryan White, I would have gone without antivirals for two months. And if I had gotten sick, I could have lost my job and wound up on the state's [assistance] roll," he said.