Arkansas governor Mick Huckabee will not use any of the state's discretionary funds to help counter an expected $160,000 budget shortfall in the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. Arkansas's ADAP received $4.4 million in funding in 2002, including additional funds to help eliminate a waiting list for the program, but those funds have run out, ADAP officials say. An enrollment cap for the program was established in April, resulting in low-income HIV-positive people being placed on a waiting list for access to free anti-HIV drugs offered through the program. State health department officials say the expected $160,000 budget shortfall also has lead them to cut two medications from the program's formulary.
ADAP officials had urged Huckabee to use some of the $500,000 in discretionary funds he receives each year from state lawmakers to help fund the program, but a spokesman for the governor says he won't spend the money on ADAP because he doesn't have enough available to "substantially benefit the ADAP." Health department officials are now looking for other funding alternatives for the program. Another option health officials are considering is to cut as many as 32 of the current 433 ADAP enrollees from the program and shift them to drug-access programs offered by pharmaceutical companies, according to the Democrat-Gazette.
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