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Gay Men's Health Crisis
New York ADAP to Cover New AIDS Drugs plus Viral Load Testing
Derek Link
September 1, 1996
GMHC Treatment Issues 1996 Sep 1; 10(9): 5

After the longest and bitterest budget battle in state history, New York state legislators have passed a 1997 spending plan that for the first time commits state tax dollars to the local AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). Although most other states contribute their own resources to their ADAP programs, New York until this year gave almost nothing. The state will now contribute $8 million this year from the general fund and $12 million annually for the succeeding three years. These funds will come from a new health care program for uninsured New Yorkers.

The move will allow New York's beleaguered ADAP to stand on firmer financial footing. On January 1 of this year, citing growing demands and skyrocketing expenses, the state health department cut 129 drugs from the ADAP formulary and capped or eliminated primary care services for the more than 17,000 low-income, uninsured New Yorkers with AIDS who rely on the program.

A New York State health department advisory committee met on August 21 to formally decide how the new state money should be used. As of September 1, New York ADAP began covering HIV protease inhibitors, viral load evaluations and other crucial anti-HIV and opportunistic infection agents including nevirapine for HIV, cidofovir for CMV and DaunoXome for KS. Pursuant to the advisory committee's recommendations, New York ADAP also has restored some of the most important benefits and coverage of medications that were eliminated in January such as many antibiotic and psychotropic drugs. Two of the most expensive medications, Epogen and Neupogen, which are used to manage the bone marrow suppression caused by some of the covered therapeutic agents, are not expected to return to the ADAP list at this time, however.

New York's decision came after a massive grass-roots lobbying effort by AIDS organizations across the state. Thousands of New Yorkers registered their support with state officials, and editorial pages in central and western New York spoke in support of ADAP. Behind this campaign was a sense of indignation that as treatment breakthroughs were being announced in the news, New York was denying access to new therapies. The magnitude of New York's AIDS epidemic ensured a large public outcry.

No state has been hit harder by AIDS than New York. New York City alone has more AIDS cases than any state in the union, straining the heath care system to near breaking point. For the first time in 100 years, the life expectancy for males in New York dropped, due largely to the AIDS crisis, according to the City health department. Few New Yorkers remain untouched by this public health tragedy, and few political leaders can ignore this crisis.

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