The number of people living with HIV/AIDS that are on Florida’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting list has dropped slightly through the month of  June.

The Drug Assistance Program supplies life-saving drugs to patients who are uninsured and unable to afford their HIV/AIDS medications. Waiting lists started to emerge in different states in June 2009 as a cost-containment measure to deal with a shortage in funding.

Florida’s Drug Assistance Program waiting list has steadily grown into the largest in the nation. In January, there were 2,900 people on the waiting list; by May, that number had grown to over 3,900. So why has the number of people on the state’s waitlist dropped in June?

The Florida Department of Health writes to The Florida Independent that in accordance with the department’s Federal Grant Award, the Health Resources and Service Administration expects all Ryan White Part B grantees to implement an AIDS Drug Assistance Program recertification process every six months in order to ensure that the program only serves eligible clients.

The Department of Health adds that “previous waiting list enrollment has shown that a client’s status does change, for many reasons, but oftentimes that change is not reported to the program. For example, clients become eligible for Social Security Income (SSI), or Medicaid, they might obtain employment or leave the state.”

The Health Department adds that “pharmaceutical companies that participate in donating drugs to Welvista also want assurances that individuals on the waiting list meet HRSA’s expectations and are eligible for services.”

Welvista, a South Carolina-based nonprofit health care network, filled prescriptions for more than 5,400 HIV patients in Florida during a six-week period (mid-February through March) for the Drug Assistance Program, which had temporarily run out of funding.

According to the Health Department, as of June 1, Drug Assistance Program clients who were eight months or more overdue for recertification were removed from the waiting list number. However, the Health Department adds, this does not prevent a client from reapplying for services.

According to Joey Wynn of Broward House, Broward County’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS community service organization, “People stopped recertifying, and they have been dropped.”

“We are trying to find some clients in Broward that are on Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs … and just stopped recertifying but so far, we found 2 that moved out of state, 1 got Medicaid & 1 went back to work,” Wynn writes to the Independent.

Wynn explains they have started to do some outreach to help clients understand the importance of staying certified in the state’s Drug Assistance Program in order to keep their pharmaceutical assistance program status in good standing.

He adds there are people who don’t recertify due to the convenience of being on a pharmaceutical assistance program. ”They receive their medications delivered to their homes and might feel they don’t want to bother with Aids Drug Assistance Program anymore, as the barriers, inconvenience, long waits, etc. are a hassle for them,” Wynn writes.

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