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Florida Democrats to meet with Sebelius over decision on AIDS drug funds

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MahurinEcon_Thumb1_1993.jpg

Michael Rajner, legislative director of the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus, tells The Florida Independent in a written statement that Sen. Bill Nelson, and Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Alcee Hastings will be speaking with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss Florida’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program crisis. #

Dan McLaughlin from Nelson’s office tells the Independent in a written statement: “There are two issues with adap. one is the state’s handling of the program, which sen. nelson has taken up with gov. scott. the other is the proposed change at the federal level. sen. nelson hopes to have a discussion soon with health secretary sebelius on what exactly the administration is doing.” #

Rajner says he would be dead within several years without the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, a nationwide payer of last resort for people who cannot afford their HIV/AIDS medications that has been in a funding crisis since 2010. #

The Independent reported yesterday that Carl Schmid learned that the Obama administration has decided to limit how much money each state can receive from recently approved AIDS Drug Assistance Program “emergency relief funding.” #

In a document issued earlier this month, the federal HIV/AIDS bureau awards a total of “$50 million in emergency relief funding to states/territories to help improve access to life-saving medications through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program.” The document adds that the maximum amount awarded to any one state will be $3 million. #

Rajner’s written message adds that the Health Resources and Services Administration, the federal agency responsible for establishing the formula for distributing AIDS Drug Assistance Program money, has recently undergone major leadership changes, prompting genuine concern in the national HIV/AIDS community. #

His statement adds: #

HRSA must commit the same proportionate amount of funds to address the crisis in Florida where Republicans, like Governor Rick Scott, fail to have any compassion for disadvantaged and low-income residents. Given Florida is home more than 40% of the human lives parked on a wait list for life-saving HIV-medications, HRSA’s commitment must be proportionate to the Florida’s burden. #

National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors data issued last week show that more than 3,550 people (.pdf) are now on Florida’s waiting list for the program, the longest such list in the U.S. #

Florida — along with almost 20 other states — has implemented cost-containment measures such as waiting lists and reduced prescription drug lists. Since April, the Sunshine State has been considering changing its income eligibility requirements from 400 percent of the federal poverty level to 200 percent. #

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