April 26, 2011

April 26, 2011
Darkness for People with HIV and AIDS in the Sunshine State

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Tuesday and I hope you are having a safe and great week so far. Dab the AIDS Bear and I have just arrived back in south Florida after a tiring and trying meeting in Tallahassee, Florida about the potential changes to Ryan White services.

I was going to write about the trip today but will save that blog for tomorrow. It is more important I write about the last three meetings on this issue and why you should attend the meetings.

We have received some more bad news for Floridians living with HIV and AIDS. Our elected officials are trying to cut back the eligibility for Ryan White ADAP, AICP and HOPWA to 200 percent of the FPL (federal poverty level) which will hurt thousands of people in our community.

Florida's legislature is compelling the state's Department of Health (DOH) to hold workshops on Rule 64D-4. This rule concerns HIV/AIDS patient care services eligibility criteria (Ryan White Part B), among which the income requirement is included. The state is attempting to reduce the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) income requirement from 400% FPL to 200% FPL. This will have a devastating impact on patients as well as care providers. The change will affect the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and remove potentially thousands of patients from the program. There is no alternative for these patients other than pharmaceutical Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) which are not sustainable substitutes.

The legislature is trying to make a political statement that the ADAP waiting list can be effectively eliminated. Lowering FPL eligibility will not only throw off a massive amount of current ADAP clients, but also significantly reduce the wait list number. Florida would then no longer have the greatest wait list in the country and this action would set a precedent for other states to enact the same measure. We can not tolerate the backwards attempt to eliminate the wait list and deprive patients of their lifesaving medication.

Just so everyone understand the gravity of this situation, FPL guidelines consider 200% to be $21,780 gross income annually for a household size of 1. We all know how expensive antiretroviral medication is. Innumberable patients would go without medication if this rule change is made.

The following are last three statewide meetings on this issue in Miami and Tampa:

Miami Tuesday, May 3,2011 at 12noon: NEW LOCATION - Kovens Conference Center, 3000 NE 15th Street, Miami, FL 33181

Tampa Wednesday May 4, 2011 at 9am:Mary Martha House, Room 201-202, 717 S. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, Florida 33609

Miami Monday, May 9, 2011 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm: History Miami (Formerly known as Historical Museum of Southern Florida), 101 West Flagler Street, Conference Rooms A-B-C (basement), Miami, Florida 33130.

We need everyone with HIV and AIDS, and our allies, to show up for at least one if not all of these meetings!

We were basically told by the Florida Dept. of Health that they either have to reduce eligibility for Ryan White services to 200 percent of FPL or cap life saving Ryan White services for those in the future. BOTH options would result in the needless deaths of Floridians with HIV and AIDS.

Make no mistake that if we allow this to happen to Floridians with HIV and AIDS, the same will happen to our community in other states in the country. So stand up and let your voice be heard!

In the meantime, please contact Gov. Scott and the Florida elected officials on this deadly issue. Gov. 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! Join Dab the AIDS Bear in letting elected officials know that needless deaths of Americans with HIV and AIDS is not acceptable.

If you do not know who your elected officials are go to: http://www.votesmart.org, enter your address and you will get a list of your representatives and their contact information.

big bear hug,

Dab and Dab the AIDS Bear