The national AIDS Drug Assistance Program Working Group, responding to a new report showing that the nation's ADAPs are facing severe budget shortfalls, has called on Congress to provide $145 million in emergency supplemental appropriations to keep the programs running at current levels through March 2004. Financial problems have already forced 10 state-run ADAPs to close enrollment to new clients, leading to waiting lists in those states. Budget shortfalls are expected to continue to increase as drug prices rise, cuts to Medicaid programs force some HIV-positive people into ADAPs for anti-HIV medications, more people are identified with HIV infection, and those already infected with HIV live longer and require ongoing treatment.
"We haven't seen waiting lists this large, this early, since the crisis years of 1996-1997," said Bill Arnold, chairman of the ADAP Working Group. "That is when the drug combinations that have cut the national death rate from AIDS by over two thirds were introduced. It is vital that Congress appropriate the $145 million in emergency funds immediately so that ADAPs across the nation won't be forced to impose even more drastic limitations to access this year. Without the $145 million emergency supplemental funding for fiscal year 2003, we will need an additional $283 million in the fiscal year 2004 just to eliminate the waiting lists and limitations in ADAP services that will result from inaction now."
ADAPs are designed to provide underinsured and uninsured individuals living with HIV/AIDS access to lifesaving medications. About 80,000 Americans are enrolled in the programs, located in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.