Bill To Restore Income Eligibility Guidelines For State AIDS Drug Distribution Program Advances

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TRENTON – A bill which would formally restore the income eligibility guidelines for New Jersey’s AIDS Drug Distribution Program (ADDP) to the levels they were at before Governor Christie scaled back the program in the FY 2011 State Budget was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Monday by a vote of 6-3, with one abstention.

The bill, S-2214, would restore the ADDP program income eligibility levels to 500% of the federal poverty level, or $54,150 a year in income – the standard it was set at in FY 2010. Christie’s FY 2011 Budget reduced the program to 300% of the federal poverty level, or $32,490 a year in income. Christie’s cuts in the FY 2011 Budget would have cut 960 people with AIDS from the program.

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According to the lawmakers, drug therapy alone can cost an HIV-positive or AIDS-positive person $25,000 a year in health care costs, based on a 2006 academic study.  That figure doesn’t account for regular blood testing, physician visits or treatment of the side effects caused by these drugs, or the cost of food and shelter, among other living expenses.  For individuals earning less than the state’s median income, the high cost of drug therapy can often lead them to rationing medications or cutting out other necessary living expenses.

The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, before going to the full Senate for consideration.


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