Arkansas health officials say they may need to cut enrollment in the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program by more than half to prevent it from running out of money before March 31, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. There are currently 418 HIV patients enrolled in the program, but that number may have to be cut to as few as 184. There also are currently 31 HIV patients on a waiting list for the program. Health officials say a final decision will be made after the December ADAP expenditures are reviewed. Patients cut from the program will be transferred to drug company patient assistance programs, health officials say. But AIDS activists say those programs are much more difficult to manage than ADAP, noting that for each drug a patient takes a separate drug company program must be applied to and usually reapplied to every month to maintain coverage.
The state hopes to receive supplemental federal assistance in 2005 to avoid removing more than half of the ADAP enrollees from the program. The program has already cut two drugs from its formulary and tightened financial eligibility requirements--from 300% of the federal poverty level to 200%--to help save money. Gov. Mike Huckabee has declined requests to use state discretionary funds to help make up ADAP's budget deficit, and the state legislature has provided no state tax dollars for the program since 2002.