ADAP supporters urge Congress to boost funding
In a letter hand-delivered to members of Congress Tuesday by HIV-positive people and AIDS advocates, a coalition of more than 400 groups is urging the lawmakers to support an emergency appropriation of $180 million to support cash-strapped AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. Sixteen states have already implemented such ADAP restrictions as tightened financial eligibility requirements, reduced drug formularies, and the formation of waiting lists due to budget shortfalls, and more states are expected to enact restrictions this year. More than 800 people across the country are currently on waiting lists to access life-saving anti-HIV medications through the programs. The emergency appropriation sought by the ADAP supporters would serve only as a down payment on the $319 million the program will need through fiscal 2005 to fully serve its nearly 100,000 clients, according to members of the groups Save ADAP and the AIDS Treatment Data Network. "The reason for the crisis is simple, " said Lei Chou of Save ADAP and the AIDS Treatment Data Network. "The number of uninsured and underinsured patients who rely on ADAP increases each year but neither federal nor state governments seem willing to fund the program to meet the need. This is resulting in totally unnecessary death and suffering across the country." Three people died of AIDS-related complications in 2003 while on West Virginia's ADAP waiting list.