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Gay Men's Health Crisis
Treatment Briefs: Viral Load Patient Assistance Programs
Dave Gilden
March 15, 1997
GMHC Treatment Issues 1997 Mar 15; 11(3): 7

Both Chiron and Roche have set up patient assistance programs (PAP) to ensure there is access to viral load tests for those who have no current means of payment.

The number to call for information (in English or Spanish) for the Roche program for PCR tests is (888) TEST-PCR. The PAP representative will first determine whether the caller is eligible for coverage through an insurance company and will assist in negotiating with that carrier. If third-party reimbursement cannot be arranged and the applicant is qualified, Roche will send the applicant's doctor a voucher for a free test, along with the address of the laboratory designated to perform the test. There is supposed to be a two week turnaround time from initial call to approval for those who qualify. Eligible patients are entitled to a maximum of five free tests per calendar year and must go through a simplified recertification process for each additional test.

The number to call for information on Chiron's bDNA PAP is (800) 775-7533. This is the reimbursement hotline, which assists people in finding payment methods and working out problems with claims (prior to April 15, 1997 inquiries about the PAP can be directed to (888) HIV-LOAD) The bDNA test is still not FDA-approved, but, according to a survey done by Chiron, most claims are being paid for by private insurers, Medicaid or ADAP. For those who have no means of payment, Chiron is working with certain local hospitals and clinics that serve indigent or uninsured patients to provide free tests on site. This means that a person must register with a participating medical facility in order to have access to the program. Facilities are being targeted in large urban areas with several sites already on line in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago and others planned in cities with large populations of people living with AIDS. The program is not available to those outside the immediate geographic area.

One final note for those who had PCR tests performed last summer under Roche's free introductory program and never received the results due to a massive logjam at the labs involved: Roche is still offering two complimentary replacement tests (see Treatment Issues article More Free Viral Loads, November, 1996, page 12). Physicians can request coupons for patients in this situation until the end of June. The coupons are valid for six months from date of issue and can be unofficially transferred to any patient. Doctors can also call the PAP number, (888) TEST-PCR, to obtain the coupons.