Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Quick Note On AIDS Patients

New Jersey has about 35,000 people living with AIDS. In 2010, about 7,645 people received AIDS medications, as well as medications for AIDS related health issues, under the State ADAP, or AIDS Drug Assistance Program. About half of those people are African-American and about a quarter are Latinos. The 2010 budget cut about 950 of those people from the ADAP plan by lowering the income eligibility for the program from 5 times the Federal poverty rate to 3 times the Federal poverty rate.

Then the Governor announced that, by negotiating additional drug rebates with pharmaceutical companies, those 950 people would continue to get their AIDS drugs free from the State. Of course, they would no longer receive free drugs for AIDS related medical conditions.

In the 2011 budget, the Democratic legislature tried to restore those 950 people to the ADAP program, thus restoring their right to receive free drugs for AIDS related medical conditions in addition to their AIDS meds. Since the 950 were already getting their AIDS meds free, this was a modest budget proposal. In 2009, the State spent $8.7 million in ADAP funds for people making 4 and 5 times the poverty level; the additional rebates from pharmaceutical companies must have reduced this figure dramatically.

However, despite the nominal cost of the program, the change did not escape the Governor's line item veto. So, for another year, the largely black and latino AIDS population making 4-5 times the poverty level -- i.e., between $32,500 and $55,150 -- will not be getting free medication for AIDS related illnesses.

Insert millionaires' tax joke here.

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