Columbus Dispatch (12.01.11) - Tuesday, December 06, 2011
A preliminary injunction issued Nov. 29 by a Franklin County
judge temporarily blocked the Ohio Department of Health (ODH)
from revising the eligibility standards of the Ohio HIV Drug
Assistance Program (OHDAP).
The change, which was to have taken effect in November, would
cut the maximum income allowable for eligibility from the
current 300 percent of the federal poverty level to 100
percent. OHDAP, Ohio's Ryan White program, uses nearly $25
million in funding to assist 5,588 people.
Three patients filed the lawsuit, alleging that ODH had failed
to follow its own rules, including notifying the public of the
proposed changes. In his ruling, Common Pleas Court Judge
Timothy S. Horton agreed, saying, "Individuals with AIDS and
HIV-related diseases rely on medical treatment to survive.
Changes to the Ryan White program will undoubtedly affect
access to treatment." "Failure to grant a permanent injunction
in this case would invite statewide agencies to conduct
meaningless public hearings only to substantially alter the
rule at a later date," Horton said.
ODH spokesperson Tessie Pollock said OHDAP had eliminated its
waiting list in September, and that the change was meant to
kick in only when a list was active. Rather than restricting
access to treatment, she said, "These rules were meant to do
just the opposite. If there is a waitlist again, we want to
move the sickest people who need the medication immediately
into the program."