April 25, 2011

April 25, 2011
Standing Up for Floridians with HIV and AIDS

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Monday and I hope you had a safe and great Easter weekend! It was a very busy weekend for Dab the AIDS Bear and myself. We are currently in Tallahassee, Florida fighting proposed changes to Ryan White eligibility.

Now that the Easter egg hunts are over, it is time for us to stand up as a community to protect people living with HIV and AIDS in Florida.

As you read in my previous blog a few days ago, our Governor and elected officials are trying to lower Ryan White eligibility from 400 percent of FPL (federal poverty level - roughly $40,000 a year) to 200 percent of FPL (roughly $20,000 a year).

There are so many reasons I am upset and fighting this proposed change to Ryan White eligibility:

. The high cost of HIV medications - Treatment for HIV can run from $1000 a month up to $4,000 a month (sometimes even higher) for just the HIV medications. If someone is only making $20,000 a year, how can they be expected to afford more than they make for life saving medications.

The argument from the state is people with HIV can get on Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) from the pharmaceutical companies. And while pharma has been good about helping out with PAPs during our country's ADAP funding crisis, there is no guarantee they will be willing to double the size of the program. This is what will need to happen if Florida lowers Ryan White eligibility to 200 percent of FPL since it will effect up to 4,900 Floridians with HIV and AIDS.

. The stress this will cause members of our community since many of them do not understand Ryan White funding. The AIDS Services Organizations (ASOs) will not be able to handle quickly and efficiently such a large number of people needing help accessing PAPs. So many will get lost in the rush to access the programs and there is no guarantee how many will get approved.

. With the amount of money our country dishes out to other countries for natural disasters, other countries' HIV epidemic and for political reasons; it is an abomination we would allow our own citizens to die only because they can not afford life saving HIV medications.

So I will be writing about today's meetings in the blog for tomorrow so you can stay updated on the situation. If you were unable to make the meeting today in Tallahassee, I hope you can make one of the two meetings in Miami or the meeting in Tampa. (They are during the first and second week of May.) The last meeting is in Miami on May 9, 2011.

Once again, I will ask all of you to please contact Governor Scott of Florida and let him know what you think about the proposed change to Ryan White eligibility and endangering the lives of my fellow Floridians living with HIV and AIDS.

Governor Scott can be contacted at: (850)488-7146;(850)487-0801 (fax).

Letters should be mailed to:

Office of Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

To email Gov. Scott go to: http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/

Floridians with HIV and AIDS are counting on your help! Thanks for making a difference. Silence = Death!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab