States cutting AIDS drug assistance programs

Many states are cutting their drug assistance programs to AIDS patients, reports Kaiser Health News. Patients without access to such drugs are far more likely to become seriously ill as a result of their condition, and could strain the resources of hospitals and hospices.

As a result of funding cuts, some 8,300 people are on waiting lists in 13 states to obtain retroviral and related drugs to treat HIV or AIDs. Many other states have eliminated their waiting lists entirely. About 174,000 people receive drugs through the state programs, according to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors.

Although federal funding the for programs has remained steady, states are receiving a flood of applicants from people who have lost their job-based healthcare benefits as a result of the recession.

"Some states have disenrolled their patients, that's a kind of silent crisis, I think," said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, an advocacy group on gay issues. The Peach State has 1,520 people on its waiting list, the second-highest in the nation.

In addition to expanding their waiting lists, some states are tightening income eligibility guidelines. On July 1, Illinois will cut the maximum annual income for receiving assistance from $54,450 to $32,670. Florida is considering reducing the income cutoff in half, to $21,780.

For more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article
- read the POZ article