Monday, 14 February 2011 12:47

The ADAP Watch: Florida Runs Out of Money

From NAPWA: The National Association of People with AIDS


There's major news on ADAP, and it isn't good. For the first time, a state ADAP program will run out of money, weeks before the program's March 31 fiscal year end, and will simply shut down until new funding becomes available April 1. The Miami Herald reported January 20 that Florida's ADAP will be out of money in mid-February.

 

This is a national story, not just a local one, for several reasons.

First, shear magnitude. For six weeks, ten thousand Floridians now getting HIV drugs through Florida's ADAP will join the nearly three thousand Floridians officially wait-listed and not receiving drugs.

Second, the unresponsive political climate. Florida Senator Bill Nelson has appealed to the Administration, the House, and Florida's Governor and legislators to move and move fast. So far, no response.

Third, private industry is stepping in to do what government should but will not. There are reports that not-for-profit Welvista Pharmacy, with funding from the Heinz family foundation and free drugs from most major pharmaceutical firms, is gearing up to supply drugs to the ten thousand in the six weeks that Florida's ADAP program is shut down. Bravo, Welvista and industry! And see the next article, Industry Steps Up to the Plate, to read more about industry's response to the ADAP funding crisis. We just pray that Welvista and Florida caregivers on the ground can handle the logistics of ten thousand enrollments all at one time.

Why do we think government should be funding the ADAPs more generously? Because it is in their own budgetary self-interest to do so. Dr. Julio Montaner's groundbreaking study, published just before the 2010 Vienna World AIDS Conference, demonstrated that the Province of British Columbia would save tens of billions in healthcare costs over two decades if everyone in B.C. testing positive began treatment immediately with antiviral drugs. Lower general community viral load means less transmission. Less transmission means less demand on future provincial budgets.

What's true for a large Canadian province is going to be true for a large U.S. state. We need to communicate to Congressional and state budget hawks that funding the ADAPs and other HIV prevention and treatment programs is the height of long-term fiscal conservatism.

Here are the latest waiting list numbers from our friends at the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors. And remember that the reported numbers don't include those who have been excluded from state ADAP programs by ever-lower income eligibility limits.