Nearly 1,000 New Jersey residents with HIV/AIDS will be immediately enrolled in a new drug benefit program that will provide free AIDS medications to individuals between 300 and 500 percent of the federal poverty level.
The new program is specifically designed for approximately 960 people enrolled in the existing Aids Drug Distribution Program (ADDP) who will no longer be eligible as of Sunday, August 1. The eligibility change was part of the Department’s efforts to address a nearly $11 billion state budget shortfall.
Health and Senior Services Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh explained that the state learned this month that it will receive approximately $5 million in additional rebates recently negotiated from pharmaceutical companies and that—along with newly available federal AIDS grant funding--will enable the Department to automatically transfer those no longer eligible for the ADDP program into the new program called the Temporary AIDS Supplemental Rebate and Federal Assistance Program.
The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors recently convened a crisis task force which successfully negotiated additional rebates from pharmaceutical companies in response to cost containment efforts that many states were forced to make. In addition, New Jersey expects to receive a share of a new federal ADDP grant program announced earlier this month by U.S. Health and Human Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
"The Department faced extremely difficult budget choices and worked continuously to explore every possible option to reverse this reduction and to maintain access. As a physician, I know how important these life-saving medications are to individuals with HIV and AIDS," said Commissioner Alaigh. "New pharmaceutical rebates and federal funds made available after July 1 enabled us to create this new benefit program to ensure that individuals continue to receive these critical medications."
Dr. Alaigh said the transfer from ADDP to the new program “will be virtually seamless. This is another example of Gov. Chris Christie’s commitment to help New Jersey’s most vulnerable.’’
“We are very pleased that the pharmaceutical industry could partner with the state of New Jersey to provide critical medications to this vulnerable population,’’ said Steve Issenman, senior vice president of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey. “Private/public partnerships are essential during challenging budgetary times to ensure residents have access to services they need.”
These two drug benefit programs will provide life-sustaining and life-prolonging medications to 7,700 low-income individuals with no other source of payment for these drugs. The program covers 960 individuals who will receive a wide range of FDA-approved medications for treating individuals with HIV and AIDS. The existing ADDP program will continue to serve 6,740 clients.
A letter being mailed today to affected participants explains that they will be able to use the same eligibility number that they are currently using when they fill prescriptions.
In addition to providing medication assistance, the Division of HIV/ AIDS has several other programs that assist individuals with HIV/AIDS with primary health care, insurance premiums and home care services.
New Jersey has publicly funded HIV clinics statewide that provide primary medical care to more than 12,000 people with HIV/AIDS. The Department also covers health insurance premiums for New Jersey residents with HIV or AIDS who can no longer work or that can only work part time under a program called the New Jersey Health Insurance Continuation Program.
Additionally, the Department provides funding for a statewide network of licensed and certified home health care agencies that provide comprehensive services to individuals with HIV/AIDS who are living in their homes.