Minnesota's AIDS Drug Assistance Program is running short of funds, prompting state officials to consider a waiting list for future low-income patients needing the program. Beginning July 1, patients will have to contribute up to 7% of their income to stay on the program as well as pay up to $20 a month for their drugs. Critics worry the cutbacks could cause some patients to abandon treatment, which would undermine AIDS control efforts. The state ADAP helps more than 1,200 HIV-positive people pay for their medicine.
A waiting list "would really be at the bottom of our list of things that we would want to do," said Shirley York, director of the HIV/AIDS division at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. There are no current plans to institute a wait list, she added, but said such a list could not be ruled out unless the legislature comes up with an extra $10 million to cover the expected shortfall over the next three years. A survey released this month showed that 11 states already have ADAP waiting lists, and 10 others are cutting program benefits.
About one in four HIV-positive Minnesotans gets some help from ADAP. Since 2001, the number of patients in Minnesota's ADAP has grown by about 50% while the state contribution has dropped by about 1%. The federal government pays for three fourths of Minnesota's ADAP, with the state paying the rest, for a total of $4.2 million this year. State officials had asked for more money this year, but a budget impasse in the legislature prevented action on their request. (AP)