California Lawmakers Drop ADAP Copay Plan (for Now)

The California budget signed by Gov. Gray Davis on Aug. 2 did not contain a plan to impose copayments on AIDS Drug Assistance Program clients, a measure that advocates feared would have been devastating for people living with HIV/AIDS. The state ADAP program increased $27 million to $211 million without forcing those in the program to pay for a portion of their medicines. But with California facing an estimated $8 billion deficit next fiscal year, AIDS advocates remain alarmed that the copayment plan could resurface.

"The Legislature is so clearly hostile to this idea of charging ADAP clients but that could change," said Dana Van Gorder, San Francisco AIDS Foundation's state policy director. "It just depends on how bad the budget is next year."

With part of the additional ADAP funding coming from one- time sources, Van Gorder said the fight for the program will only intensify next year. "Some of that funding, particularly the drug rebate money we used, was one-time money and won't be available to us at all next year," he said. "So it is just going to be much more difficult to put funding together."

While ADAP was spared in the budget, other programs took a hit. The state will cut $1.2 million from HIV prevention programs in public schools, and cut $2.3 million from research conducted through the University of California. The state is transferring $7 million from a program that provides medical monitoring of AIDS patients to ADAP. While counties could make up that shortfall, they are also facing budget constraints. The budget also cuts reimbursement to Medi-Cal providers by 5 percent, an action that AIDS advocates predict could affect services for some people living with AIDS.