October 4, 2011
Ohio's Ryan White Program took the last person needing AIDS drug assistance off its waiting list on Sept. 28.
The waiting list began last summer in response to a $3.9 million program deficit. In addition, coverage was limited to clients at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level, rather than the previous 500 percent. The program dropped drugs not specifically related to HIV.
At the list's peak in July, 492 Ohioans were deferred, but several measures allowed the state to accommodate these patients, said Katherine E. Shumate, the Ryan White Part B administrator. Today the program has 5,623 enrolled clients.
A change in federal law allows about one-third of the clients who are on Medicare Part D prescription plans to quickly transition to "catastrophic coverage," under which the state pays much less for treatments. That saved about $1.6 million on just one combination therapy, Shumate noted.
The state is now recouping the difference between the higher drug prices it pays for clients who have insurance and the rates it normally pays for uninsured patients under special pricing agreements. Going as far back as the first quarter of last year, Ohio has obtained $7.8 million in such rebates.
Ohio also has received an additional $3.1 million in grants since the waiting list began, said Jay Carey, management analyst with the Ryan White Program.
The state will retain a waiting list and use it as a tool to ensure program resources are available before enrolling new clients, Shumate said. A joint committee of the Legislature is scheduled to vote soon on a proposal that would give priority to the sickest patients.
09.30.2011; Misti Crane
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