Feds to HIVers: Hurry up and wait

Please, sir, they want some more—now. The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which buys meds for more than 76,000 HIVers nationwide, got an extra $80 million in February—boosting its budget to $719 million. But its palms remain outstretched. The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) had proposed a $160 million hike, hoping to obliterate lengthening waiting lists and add more HIV meds. South Dakota’s program, for example, doesn’t cover protease inhibitors. North Carolina, with 293 on a waiting list in March, may see only $2 million of the $13.5 million it needs.

President Bush, who wanted no ADAP increase, proposed a separate plan to give states control over Medicaid bucks. If Congress agrees, states could cut HIV services that rely on Medicaid for funding. AIDS advocates warn that any savings from ADAP and Medicaid now will bust budgets later as neglected HIVers cram emergency rooms.