Gov. Rick Scott (Pic via flgov.com)

Florida’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting list increased to 949 people as of Thursday, according to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (aka NASTAD).

NASTAD data (.pdf) also indicates that Florida’s ADAP waiting list ranks third in the U.S., with 22 percent of the 4,300 individuals on waiting lists in 12 states.

The AIDS Drug Assistance Program, known as ADAP, is a federally funded nationwide payer of last resort for people who cannot afford their HIV/AIDS medications. The program has been in a funding crisis since 2010, which prompted many states, including Florida, to implement cost containment measures (.pdf) such as waiting lists.

Michael Rajner, a South Florida AIDS activist, told The Florida Independent that in December’s ADAP work group meeting with the state, “it was reported that the ADAP list would grow by approximately 300 people each month.”

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fort Lauderdale, issued a letter last week urging Gov. Rick Scott to “support its ADAP, as well as its Medicaid program, to the greatest extent allowed by its current budgetary considerations.”

In response to inquiries from the Independent about Hastings’ letter, Jackie Schutz, the deputy press secretary for Gov. Scott’s office wrote this week: “While Gov. Scott did not propose additional funding to ADAP in his 2012-2013 budget recommendations, he is looking at the whole program with the goal of reducing unnecessary administrative costs and making it operate more efficiently so that more people can be served with the funds we already have.”

Jessica Hammonds from the Florida Department of Health wrote to the Independent that upon receipt of the Ryan White federal funds,

on September 1, 2011, Florida ADAP began enrolling clients from the waiting list into the program based on projections and program capacity. Since then, the waiting list has been reduced from a high of 4,057 in May, 2011 to 850 applicants as of February 10, 2012. While we expect a wait list into the new Ryan White fiscal year which begins April 1, 2012, much is based on the economy, demand for services, funding and funding needs.

Hammonds added that “to serve additional clients from the wait list, DOH’s Bureau of HIV/AIDS continues to work with federal and state officials as well as with community partners to secure additional resources. The Bureau  also continues to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to simplify and expand access to patient assistance programs throughout the country and participates in negotiations to obtain lower prices for HIV/AIDS medications.”

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