October 13, 2010
The Texas HIV Medication Program, which provides antiretroviral drugs and other life-saving medication to about 15,000 low-income residents, is facing a $23 million shortfall in the next two years, officials said.
Absent full funding of the program, officials are considering enrollment caps, stricter eligibility or dropping some drugs from the formulary. At the same time, some state officials note that effective HIV management can forestall even greater public outlays.
"I hope we don't cut people's medicines off and things like that. That could be a long-term, bigger cost if we cut that," said Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie), the House's chief budget writer.
The medication program, which was founded in 1987, is at record enrollment. Rising unemployment, more widespread HIV testing, and the efficacy of antiretrovirals explain the growth, said Dwayne Haught, program manager of the Department of State Health Services.
"People are coming on the program and they're staying for much longer," Haught said. Almost 20 percent of enrollees have been in the program for at least 10 years, he said.
With pharmaceutical manufacturers' subsidies, Texas spends between $5,000 and $8,000 per year to sustain an enrollee on its AIDS Drug Assistance Program, the larger of the two components of the medication program. The smaller program, the State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program, serves about 1,300 people and is limited to those who are enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription plan.