Florida: AIDS Drug Program Has Shortfall Crisis
February 25, 2011
Florida's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) scarcely escaped a $14 million financial crisis this month that would have seen thousands of patients go without their medication for up to two months, according to AIDS activists.
ADAP is being pressed by high unemployment and increasing numbers of people without insurance and patients who are surviving longer. "We are clearly in crisis mode and we don't know how to get this fixed," said Dr. Michael Kolber, the University of Miami's Comprehensive AIDS Program director. AIDS advocates worry the crisis will repeat itself next year.
According to Tom Liberti, who heads the Florida Department of Health's Bureau of HIV/AIDS, state officials foresaw the crisis last spring when 11,000 residents were on the ADAP rolls and the program had a budget of $94 million. Similar to other states, Florida declined new clients and began a waiting list -- 6,236 remain waitlisted throughout the United States as of Feb. 10, over half in Florida, according to the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD).
"Three thousand people on a waiting list doesn't sound like much, but the thing is it will cost the health care system more money and lives are at stake," Kolber said of Florida's situation.
Some 6,500 Florida ADAP clients are being temporarily transitioned to a program run by the South Carolina-based, non-profit pharmacy Welvista. Through its pharmaceutical contacts, Welvista will supply free medication. The goal is for the plan to sustain Florida's ADAP customers until federal funding starts again April 1. However, drug companies are not legally bound to stopgap individuals' needs and states' financial crises.
"We don't see this as a wave of the future. It's not sustainable," said Murray Penner, NASTAD's deputy executive director who helped broker the Welvista deal.
Palm Beach Post
02.11.2011; Sonja Isger
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.
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