Friday, January 27, 2012

What would Anderson Cooper say about the promised ADAP funding?

“Keeping them honest” – where is the money?

Almost two months ago on World AIDS Day, December 1st 2011, President Obama thankfully promised an additional 35 million dollars that would go to state ADAP (AIDS Drug Assistance Programs).  This money should have already been rolled out.  However no state has yet to see any of these additional funds, and the frustration level in the HIV/AIDS community is building. 
Also building are the ADAP waitlists in America; which on January 19th, 2012 totaled 4,611 individuals across 12 states waiting to receive the anti-retroviral medication they need to stay alive, remain healthy, and productive.  While this number is down from a high of nearly 10,000 last year, once again, the number has steadily been on the uptick. 
So what is the hold up? Where is this money?  Where is it coming from, and when will it be allocated to the states?
The 35 million dollars is reallocated HHS (Health and Human Services) funds, but before the funds can be reallocated the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) needs to approve.  Apparently, saving lives is not at the top of the OMB list. As PLWHA continue to wait for these funds more people will become infected, more people will be put onto wait-lists, states will try to change criteria making it difficult for people to get medicine, and sadly people will likely die.
Once approved by the OMB then states will begin the competitive process of requesting this additional money.  The most competitiveness will be among states with waiting list and already implemented cost containment measures.  This all takes time.  A current guestimate on when this money may start to roll out is not until July 2012!! That would be 7 months from the date of the announcement made on December 1st, 2012!
Did you know on the first day of American intervention in Lybia it cost US tax payers 100 million dollars, and over the three month period from April – July a total of nearly 1 billion was spent on the war with Lybia?  Why will it take 7 months to distribute 35 million in reallocated HHS funds to states with people who continue to wait for the medicine they need?  
Since Obama took office a robust national dialogue on HIV/AIDS has taken place, the National HIV/AIDS strategy was developed, his administration has increased overall funding to record levels, he re-authorized the Ryan White care act, and eliminated the travel ban on HIV positive individuals entering the United States.  He has done a lot of good when it comes to HIV/AIDS, but more must be done here at home.
“We are at the beginning of the end of this epidemic” the President said on World AIDS Day 2011, and said on this day that his vision was that “…..every American can get access to life extending care” but that vision, neither is hope in insight for the thousands of Americans that continue to be on ADAP wait-lists.

Kevin Maloney
follow me on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/riseuptohiv
email: kevin@riseuptohiv.org

Monday, January 16, 2012

Action Alert: Ohioan’s living with HIV/AIDS need our help!!!

As goes Ohio, so could the Nation. The Ohio Health Department is putting up a strong fight to lower the federal poverty limit from its height of 500% in July 2010, lowered to 300% at that time, to now have the ability to implement a potential income eligibility change to as low as 100 % FPL at anytime with no notice to anyone with a stroke of pen. If that rule had gone into effect, it would mean in order to qualify for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program a single individual cannot make more than $10,890 a year in order to be eligible. Further, ODH could implement medical criteria one must also meet. Those given the highest priority will be PLWHA who’s CD4 counts are lower than 201. The medical criterion makes no mention of an important aspect of HIV care which is the Viral Load.

Back on December 14th, three Ohio HIV- Positive advocates with the assistance of The AIDS HealthCare Foundation won an injunction to these proposed rule changes in the Franklin County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas, resetting the FPL to 300%. ODH had proposed one set of rules, had a hearing, and then changed the rules to the above without telling anyone. The judge had ordered ODH to go back to the drawing board…and they did. The end result is the terrible rules listed above.

If the Ohio Health Department gets their way and decides to lower the income limit to 100% FPL, nearly 2,600 of Ohio’s PLWHA will be forced off of ADAP( half of the program) , and countless others who will become newly infected will have no access to the medicine they need. PLWHA no matter what their socioeconomic background should be privy to medicine that will keep them alive and healthy.

Is this not  the reason behind these medications? With today’s medicine PLWHA can lead long productive lives; they are at less risk of developing an opportunistic Infection, and in 2011 a ground breaking study came out that stated those on Anti-Retro viral Therapy (ARV) are 96 percent less likely to pass the virus to their partner.

We must not let Ohio implement these rules on the backs of the poor and vulnerable, especially those living with a potentially life threatening disease such as HIV/AIDS. After 30 years of this epidemic, we must continue in our efforts to fight for all PLWHA!

How you can help:

Anyone from around the United States can send an e mail to HCS@odh.ohio.gov emphasizing your concern of these proposed changes. In the subject line use: Rule 3701-44-03

Click to see the Medical Rule Criteria proposed

Click to see the proposed changes to financial eligibility


Together in the fight,

“Voices in unity Strengthening the HIV/AIDS community”

RiseUpToHIV Daily News Digest