320 Ohioans Lose Aid for HIV Drugs
July 7, 2010
Staff members for Ohio's HIV medication assistance program recently notified 320 clients that they will no longer receive benefits due to new budget-tightening measures. The state Department of Health forecast a $16.4 million deficit in the $35 million program by March 31, the end of the fiscal year, and it had to be downsized, said Jay Carey, management analyst for Ohio's Ryan White program.
"We've been getting about 100 new clients per month," said Carey. "That's largely what is spurring these changes, is the increase in enrollment and increased program costs."
Ohio has instituted a waiting list, meaning no one will enter the treatment assistance program until someone else leaves. The eligibility criteria also were tightened. Previously, HIV/AIDS patients qualified with incomes at or below 500 percent of the federal poverty level. Clients now can make no more than 300 percent of that level.
The program will pay only for drugs directly tied to HIV and AIDS-related infections. Non-core services, including transportation and housing, will not be covered.
As program staff members notify clients of the cuts and reduction in services, case managers still will work with people in need of HIV/AIDS medications, regardless of income, said Carey. The case managers are helping clients access assistance programs run by AIDS drug manufacturers.
Those hit by the cuts "are very stressed out now, wondering if they're going to get the medication that keeps them alive," said Kevin Sullivan, executive director of the Ohio AIDS Coalition. "To be frank about it, this could be disastrous for individuals and their health care."
Carey worries that people who are being treated for mental health issues might lose coverage of psychiatric drugs, causing them to slip up with HIV therapy adherence. Nonetheless, most HIV drug makers have been generous with assistance, Sullivan said.
07.02.2010; Misti Crane
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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