As the Texas Senate and House of Representatives continue try and balance the state two year budget by making financial cuts, tightening eligibility and reducing benefits to state programs, the Texas HIV community will meet at the Texas Department of State Health Services to discuss potential changes to the Texas HIV Medication Program.
The Texas HIV Medication Advisory Committee comprised of medical professionals, social workers and consumers will meet at the Texas Department of State Health Service (1100 West 49th Street, Austin) on April 1st 2011 at 12:00 PM. Commissioner David Lakey and members of the Medication Advisory Committee will begin to discuss what cost containment measures that are being considered in order to allow the medication program deal with the 19.2 million short fall that is predicted to occur within the next two years.
“The Health Department will have some very difficult decisions to make if the Texas Legislature fails to fully fund the Texas HIV Medication Program,” stated Randall Ellis, Senior Director of Legacy Community Health Services of Houston. “Panels of state lawmakers at the Texas Capitol are currently making funding decisions about the Texas HIV Medication Program. These decisions will set the level of access to life saving medication and will also literally determine who lives and who dies.”
The Texas HIV Medication Advisory Committee was disbanded in September of 2010 by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Advocates have decried this move by the Health Department as an attempt to avoid answering difficult questions regarding the use of federal dollars earmarked for medication to fund other programs at the Department of Health.
“The reconvening of the Medication Advisory Committee is a step in the right direction,” stated Ellis. “However I think that we should have begun discussion of cost containment and program restriction many months ago. We know that are federal funds, almost 6.5 million a year, are provided for HIV medication and yet the Health Department has refused to give detailed answer on how these federal funds are actually used and how they will provide HIV medication to over 15,000 low income Texans. It is time for Commissioner Lakey to meet with us and provide answers.”