Alex Blaze

Let them eat cake

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 10, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: ADAP, bambi gaddist, economic policy, finance industry, funding, government, HIV/AIDS

I don't live under any pretense that Americans don't have a single payer health care system or even a public option or the right to buy into Medicare because we're morally inferior to other countries that have such systems. Indeed, one of the biggest motivations other countries had when it came to developing such systems was the fact that it helps everyone, so it's in people's general self-interest to maintain such a system. It also helped that those countries didn't have an oversized health care sector in their economy pumping bribes aka campaign contributions into their legislative bodies, but the fundamental difference is one of knowledge. Our general issue is political confusion and disinformation fed to us as news and legitimate opinion, not a lack of morality.

But then, when it comes to states that are seeking to cut ADAP funding for lower-income and uninsured folks living with HIV/AIDS, it's pretty much just a moral issue. And the state house of South Carolina just voted to end that state's contribution to ADAP:

The South Carolina House voted Thursday to cut all HIV/AIDS funding from the budget, a funding issue that could affect thousands of South Carolinians.

The South Carolina HIV/AIDS Care Crisis Task Force reports there are more than 14,000 people living in the state who have tested positive for HIV or AIDS. About 3,000 people rely on government funds for medications.

For Brian Morgan, two pills carry a miracle.

"Life," he added, shaking pills out of a bottle.

There aren't many things scarier than knowing that your life hangs on the kindness of your state's legislature.

ADAP funds are mostly distributed by the federal government under the Ryan White CARE Act, but many states supplement that money to prevent waiting lines and funding shortfalls. South Carolina receives more funds for ADAP than the average state does, and it also has an above-average HIV rate.

These drugs save lives, and when the state cuts the funds, people die:

Dr. Bambi Gaddist of the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Care Crisis Task Force says when state funding began in 2006, more than 600 people were on a waiting list for medicine. Four of those people died.

"The funding from the legislature ensured that we could eliminate that wait list," said Gaddist. "To get these 600+ people that were in waiting to get medication off of that list and to ensure they got well, got back to work."

Gaddist says if funding is cut, there will be a new line of people who can't get medication.

"In 2006 we made some progress, we cannot stand to go back," said Gaddist.

And, as Gaddist point out, when people go off their meds they're more likely to transmit the virus to others, which will only further burden the program.

California last year, when facing a massive deficits, also considered cutting ADAP funds. There's talk about cutting them in North Carolina. At the same time, the federal government always seems to find money to pay off failed investment bank's shareholders or for more war venturing on the other side of the world. But to set up a fully funded program to pay for Americans' HIV medication needs? We just don't have the money for that.

After two years of blogging under the oppressive weight of astronomical numbers when talking about anything the government is going to pay for, the tune of $4 million sounds awfully quaint. Hell, individual Wall Street bankers get far more money in their yearly bonus than $4 million. Yet people's health is going to be put at risk and people are going to die so that someone else can buy a seventh mansion.

There's nothing that can be said about such gross inequality other than "evil."


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I can certainly sympathise, my psych meds are paid for by the State, and if they didn't there is no way I could afford them, especially the Abilify. For me these meds are just as much life and death, since my illness takes the form of suicidal thoughts and actions when the meds don't work.

I guess the phrase "penny wise, pound foolish" really is in effect here.

I say good...then every aids infected person in that state needs to sleep with as many straight people as they can muster...then we shall see how quickly their sick little attitude changes. Don't give gays meds?..fine...they will kill you all with love making. sleep tight!

One must also consider the social idea of who those people are who are being denied. How valuable are they in the minds of the legislators? In how many minds is the issue seen as one of not helping gay men and African American women. How expendable are these groups in the minds of the lawmakers? How many law makers think that this perfectly describes the demographic of who is HIV+? And the ones who can't afford it are the ones who are seen as poor and so they too are extremely expendable.

One must also consider the social idea of who those people are who are being denied. How valuable are they in the minds of the legislators? In how many minds is the issue seen as one of not helping gay men and African American women. How expendable are these groups in the minds of the lawmakers? How many law makers think that this perfectly describes the demographic of who is HIV+? And the ones who can't afford it are the ones who are seen as poor and so they too are extremely expendable.

Thanks Alex.
So many points here....But probably the biggest anxiety for PWH/A is losing funding for their meds. Every year when I have to reapply, I have a knot in my gut worrying that for some random reason I'll be denied, even though I know I fit the guidelines, have private health insurance, and for all intents and purposes am a good candidate for non-catastrophic assistance. But my health insurance only covers $2000.00 in prescriptions every year- that doesn't even cover a month of my meds. I need ADAP- my meds cost $24000.00 a year.

We're caught coming and going. If we make too much money, we don't qualify, even though the money we make couldn't begin to cover the cost of the medication PLUS rent, food and (God forbid) a pet. If we don't make enough money we have to apply for Medicaid- which is always denied if you consider yourself able to work- so people lie. They have under-the-table jobs, lie about their living arrangements, band together with others to share meds in case of an emergency.... It's creating a subculture of fear- and these legislators are simply going to make it worse.

But maybe it needs to get worse before it can get better.

Considering that the line is 200% the federal poverty line, that could still be lower than the cost of meds for a year. That's messed up.

Rick Elliott | March 11, 2010 1:57 AM

The cynic in me has to comment:Alex,
--Equally scary is having one's health dependent on corporate greed, those for whom lessened benefits are a way to make the stock look good even when net is down,
--Equally scary is having one's health vulnerable to insurance companies whose primary concern is profit.

Commenting concerning the first posting about Abilify--Remember the commercial, "For those who can't afford it--Astra Zeneca may cover the cost of your medication." I won't hold my breath to see how generous Pharma will be.

What I don't get is that they have to know it will cost more in the long run to treat these people when they reach terminal stage of AIDS. Without the meds they are just going to get sick and cost the state money in other ways.

We need socialised medicine now on the Canadian model. Screw the insurance companies, profitting by others death is just wrong, or don't these 'christians' get that little sermon.

AP style: use the bare acronym the first time; spell it out in parens after the second use. Exception: acronyms that are common usages, such as AIDS.

e.g.

......ADAP.......
....ADAP (AIDS Drug Assistance Program).......

Thanks.

Hmmm... if we followed those rules around here we'd also have to say what "LGBT" is every time it was used in a post, like the AP does.