Governor Brown’s Budget Imposes New Cost-Sharing on Low-income People
 with HIV/AIDS


According to analysis provided by Project Inform, Governor Brown’s new budget proposal provides an additional $77.2 million for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) to address growing need, but would institute cost-sharing for ADAP clients.

ADAP provides access to lifesaving HIV medications for over 35,000 low-income Californians living with HIV/AIDS who are uninsured or underinsured. 
The details regarding the amount of cost-sharing and how it will be imposed have not been decided but research indicates that even nominal co-pays can present a real barrier to low-income people accessing their life-saving medication.

 

“We thank Governor Brown for providing sufficient funding to ensure that California’s ADAP continues to meet the needs of low-income people with HIV/AIDS during this unprecedented fiscal crisis,” said Anne Donnelly, Director of Health Care Policy. “However, we are concerned about the impact of co-payments on ADAP clients. We know that cost-sharing can create real barriers to treatment access and could result in people not getting the medications they need to stay healthy and productive.  We also know that the same people who depend on ADAP for a life-saving but limited formulary of drugs have additional, substantial cost sharing in the rest of their medical care.

“Stable access to HIV treatment and care is vital to achieving the treatment and prevention goals of President Obama’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy. We look forward to working with the Governor and the State Legislature to identify alternative ways of saving money in ADAP that do not disrupt people’s ability to access their medications.”
Project Inform also expressed concern about proposed cuts to Medi-Cal and other programs serving low-income Californians.  Medi-Cal proposals to limit prescription drugs and doctors visits, impose cost sharing on low-income people, and lower provider rates combine to significantly erode California’s health care safety net.

“Cutting payments through Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payments (SSI/SSP) from $845 per month to $830 per month will make choices between rent, food and medication even more difficult for some of the most vulnerable Californians,” said Donnelly.

Finally, cuts to In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) may result in fewer disabled people being able to stay in their homes. Many people with HIV/AIDS rely on these programs for their health care and other needs. Medi-Cal plays a particularly important role for people with HIV, serving almost half of HIV positive Californians, with up to 70 percent of uninsured HIV positive individuals expected to become  eligible for the program when health care reform is fully implemented in 2014.

“Due to severe budget deficits in the last couple of years, the Medi-Cal program has already suffered serious cuts, including adult dental services and vision services,” continued Donnelly. “Further cutting the program seriously deteriorates this essential health safety net. This is the same program that as many as 70 percent of uninsured HIV positive Californians will depend on for comprehensive and quality health care coverage under health care reform in 2014.

Project Inform said that they will work with their advocacy partners, the State Legislature and the Brown Administration to develop proposals that recognize the state’s severe fiscal crisis while ensuring that people with HIV/AIDS have full access to health care and treatment.

“Californians must take a stand that balancing the budget based on cuts to the most vulnerable among us is unacceptable and we must urge our elected officials to seek responsible revenue sources to maintain life-saving programs," said Donnelly

Project Inform represents HIV-positive people in the development of treatments and a cure, supports individuals to make informed choices about their HIV health, advocates for quality health care to respond to HIV and related conditions, and promotes medical strategies that prevent new infections. They can be reached at ProjectInform.org.

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