Health officials in Mississippi are working to obtain federal funds to help pay for prescription medications for HIV patients who were recently dropped from the state's Medicaid program. A total of 65,000 state residents were cut from the program when lawmakers eliminated the Poverty Level Aged and Disabled category from the state's Medicaid program to help reduce costs. Most of those cut from the program will qualify for Medicare, but some, including an undetermined number of HIV patients, are now going without care, says Medicaid spokeswoman Francis Rullan. The state has already applied for federal Medicaid waivers to provide care to about 17,000 state residents who need chemotherapy, kidney dialysis, anti-psychotic drugs, or anti-rejection medications following organ transplants.
Health officials are now working to obtain federal funding to provide anti-HIV drugs to HIV patients cut from the Medicaid program who cannot access medications through the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program or community-based AIDS service organizations. ADAP officials worry that adding new enrollees cut from Medicaid could overwhelm their program, which is already cutting back the number of drugs it offers to low-income, HIV-positive people in the state due to budget shortfalls. Some local AIDS organizations also are worried that HIV patients cut from Medicaid could overtax their programs. "We are definitely worried that we'll be getting a lot more people calling in and that our money won't last all year," says Ella Tardy, chair of the Mississippi Episcopal AIDS Committee