Friday, April 22, 2011
When will Washington come to the Rescue?
When President Barack Obama signed into law the Fiscal-Year 2011 appropriations law (H.R.1473), many programs didn't share the modest success achieved with the small funding increase for the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs ("ADAPs"). The law provides $885 million for ADAP. This is $25 million more than was obligated in FY10, after a $25 million transfer added supplemental funds to address waiting lists. The bill provides $8 million more than H.R.1 - which was the House-passed version. Whereas the ADAP Advocacy Association (aaa+) applauded the President and Congress for the small increase - especially since many other safety-net programs were cut or level-funded - it begs the question: How satisfied should ADAP stakeholders be with the result?
Yes, clearly we're grateful for the additional $48 million because it will alleviate the ongoing ADAP crisis, albeit temporarily. It was a grassroots victory more than a demonstration of leadership by the national HIV/AIDS organizations (including this one). But more needs to be done! More voices need to be heard! More people living with HIV/AIDS - especially those patients being directly impacted by the ADAP waiting lists - need to get involved!
At the time this blog is published, there are 7,885 people living with HIV/AIDS on ADAP waiting lists in 11 states. Among them, Arkansas with 56 people; Florida with 3,807 people; Georgia with 1,343 people; Idaho with 10 people; Louisiana with 894 people; Montana with 24 people; North Carolina with 178 people; Ohio with 341 people; South Carolina with 612 people; Virginia with 616 people; and Wyoming with 4 people. And that doesn't even include the "invisible waiting lists that stretch into the thousands of patients adversely impacted by other cost containment strategies.
Failure is NOT an option because lives hang in the balance.
In response, aaa+ – together with its Lead Sponsor AIDS Healthcare Foundation (“AHF”) and in coordination with the Community Access National Network (CANN) and Housing Works – is hosting its 2011 Annual Conference as an AIDS Drug Assistance Program Summit. This year’s conference theme is “ADAPs in Crisis: When will Washington come to the rescue,” which aims to assemble ADAP stakeholders from all of the various constituency groups – including patients, advocates, service providers, health care providers, pharmaceutical companies, allied health professionals, specialty pharmacies and others.
ADAPs are in crisis. The purpose is to identify key action steps to secure additional federal appropriations, programmatic reforms, and available public and private resources to alleviate the ongoing cost-containment strategies that are putting thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS on ADAP wait lists or program disenrollment.
Faced with the “Perfect Storm” that is being fueled by high unemployment, record number of uninsured, state budgetary cutbacks, high cost of medications and inadequate federal funding, there are a historic number of people being denied access to treatment. Without intervention from either the executive or legislative branch, several thousand people living with HIV/AIDS will be at risk of developing Opportunistic Infections (“OIs”), and thousands of others who are HIV-negative will be at greater risk of contracting the virus because their HIV-positive counterparts are more infectious when not taking Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (“HAART”). The conference provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the proven Return on Investment (“ROI”) of ADAPs.
To learn more, please visit http://www.adapadvocacyassociation.org/events.html.