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 any time 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 lowers 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 to remain healthy and alive.
Ohio is trying to implement these rules on the backs of the poor and vulnerable, especially those living with a potentially life threatening disease such as HIV/AIDS.
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 stated those on Anti-Retro viral Therapy (ARV) are 96 percent less likely to pass the virus to their partner.
The Ohio Department of Health is soliciting comments from the public:
The Public notice process is as follows:
1) Public Comment Period- Once the rules have been reintroduced, the Department will solicit public written comments regarding the new proposed rules. This period runs until January 23, 2012
2) ODH Public Hearing- Once the Public Comment period has been completed, there will be a public hearing held in which all interested parties will be able to submit written or provide in-person testimony in support or in opposition of the new proposed rules. This hearing is mandated by the legislature to be within 31-45 days after a rule change is proposed.
3) JCARR hearing- Once an agency has completed the public comment period and has held the public hearing; the rules then go to a legislative committee to ensure that the agency has complied with the law in proposing the new rules. After this hearing, the agency final files to enact the new rules to bring them into effect.
How can ADAP stakeholders help:
Anyone from the United States can send an e mail to HCS@odh.ohio.gov emphasizing concerns over these proposed changes. In the subject line use: Rule 3701-44-03
Click to see ODH proposed Medical Rule Criteria proposed
Click to see ODH proposed changes to financial eligibility