May 18, 2011
The compromise budget announced Monday night by House and Senate leaders denies a requested funding increase for the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program, the Texas HIV Medication Program (THMP).
Citing hikes in the cost of HIV medicines, the longer lifespans of HIV patients and more people in need of assistance, the Department of State Health Services had asked for a $19 million boost in THMP funding. Christina Mann, a DSHS spokesperson, said, "We'll have to make changes to the HIV medication program," possibly by toughening eligibility requirements or closing enrollment entirely.
Supporters of the compromise noted that THMP, unlike many other programs, did not see a funding cut. And they said the budget authorizes state officials to shift $19 million from Medicaid to THMP.
But Randall Ellis, a spokesperson for Legacy Community Health Services, which assists Houston-area HIV/AIDS patients, said the transfer provision simply means money can be moved "from one program that is dramatically underfunded to another program that is dramatically underfunded."