November 5, 2010

November 5, 2010
350 Floridians Dropped from ADAP

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Friday and we have almost made it through another work week. I hope you are having a safe and great week so far.

Still recovering from a bad cold but slowly getting better. Meeting with the World AIDS Day committee here in Broward this afternoon since I am one of the speakers at the event this year. We are meeting at the Broward Performing Arts Center where the event will take place on December 1, 2010.

Unfortunately, thins are getting worse here in Florida for people with HIV and AIDS. Here is a local story featuring me:

2,000 more at risk due to budget despairs

About 350 uninsured HIV/AIDS patients will be cut from the Florida Department of Health’s federally funded program that pays for all or most of their drugs, due to budget crisis. Unless the state can secure a $16 million shortfall over the next few months 2,000 or more HIV positive patients could be stricken from the from the drug subsidy program, officials said. “We are all pursuing every possible legal and financial option we can to make up the deficit,” state HIV/AIDS Chief Tom Lilberti said. “No one wants to disenroll one patient.”

The health department was compelled to put more than 2,300 patients from Central and South Florida on a waiting list for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program and stopped coverage for many drugs that treat HIV shared problems.

In about 30 days 350 patients could lose coverage. Dropping patients saves about $10,000 per person per year, Liberti said.

Losing coverage will interrupt the delivery of drugs and the schedules for HIV-positive patients who take them. Taking the medicine on time is vital, specialists say, because even 5 percent of doses missed gives the virus a chance to become defiant to the drugs.

“We are playing with people’s lives here,” said Dab Garner, a Fort Lauderdale HIV positive patient and activist who was among those briefed on the situation.

Here in South Florida, where HIV infections per capita are amongst highest in the nation the decreases will be the finial nails in the coffins. Florida has one of the biggest waiting lists between the nine states that started them.

Because of the shape of the economy and people are living longer thanks to superior drugs Florida’s AIDS drug program is in trouble. The patients that will be dropped have incomes more than three times the federal poverty level.

President Obama in June found $25 million to assist states with their waiting lists. Florida’s $6 million share would not be available until April 1, which means Florida’s $100 million program will be $16 million short of making it to April 1.

To add insult to injury, officials said the state plans to drop patients from the drug program who fail to pick up their medicine within a five day window at the end of the month. Officials say the move encourages patients to take drugs on time, but Dab said it will harshly punish people for small mistakes.

Now you know the rest of the story. Time to call your elected officials and demand more funding for ADAP and other Ryan White programs.

I hope you have a great weekend. Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab