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Alabama could cut 200 clients from ADAP by Friday

Alabama could cut 200 clients from ADAP by Friday

The Alabama Department of Public Health has notified 200 clients of the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program that they will lose their access to free medication this Friday unless the legislature approves a $1 million appropriation. Now a filibuster in the state senate could derail attempts to pass the appropriation in advance of that deadline. The health department combines $8.5 million in federal funds with $2 million in state dollars to provide medications for 1,150 low-income HIV-positive people who do not qualify for Medicaid. But as HIV-positive people live longer and their drugs get more expensive, the program is running out of money, says Don Williamson, the state's health officer. The average cost of HIV treatment is now $850 per patient per month. An additional 550 people are on a waiting list to join the program. On March 8, the Alabama house voted 97-0 to supply the needed $1 million. On March 30, the senate finance and taxation-general fund committee approved the funding 13-0. But the senate has been blocked from receiving the appropriation by a filibuster over a bill that would require nonprofits running ads to influence elections or referendums to disclose their funding sources. Proponents and opponents of the measure have kept the filibuster going since March 29. On Tuesday, Democrats and Republicans agreed to a set of procedural moves to pause the filibuster, receive the bill, and put it in position to win approval on Thursday, the senate's last meeting day this week. The filibuster then resumed. Williamson has told senators that if the 200 patients are cut from the program, "some of them will absolutely die." Democratic and Republican leaders have predicted the appropriation will pass. (AP)

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