The number of people on waiting lists for access to AIDS Drug Assistance Programs nationwide has dropped to 813 people in nine states as of November 22, down from more than 1,100 people in July, according to a report by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors and the Kaiser Family Foundation. Much of the drop is credited to a one-time release of $20 million in emergency funding by President Bush in June to help eliminate the waiting lists. Five of 10 states eligible for the emergency funding had eliminated their waiting lists by November--Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Colorado, and South Dakota. Colorado and South Dakota also used additional state appropriations to help eliminate their waiting lists. The nine states with current waiting lists include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. A total of 13 states have implemented some sort of cost-containing measures--including starting waiting lists, cutting the number of drugs provided, or tightening financial eligibility requirements--because of budget shortfalls for their ADAPs, according to the report. Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Wyoming also are expected to enact new or additional ADAP restrictions before the end of the fiscal year on March 31, 2005.
"It is clear that in a short period of time, a large number of people have accessed lifesaving medications through the president's initiative," said Craig E. Thompson, executive director of AIDS Project Los Angeles, in a statement. "What is less clear is how these people will get their drugs next year, or how we will account for the people who weren't eligible in June but need drugs now. This report proves that circumventing the current system will not work. We need a broad, structural solution to ADAP, not a quick fix."