August 6, 1996

OLYMPIA - Gov. Mike Lowry will be in Spokane today to attend a public hearing on the state Department of Health's HIV/AIDS prescription drug program (APDP). The hearing will be at Sacred Heart Medical center, 101 W. 8th Ave, from 4 to 6 p.m.

The program, which pays for medications for low-income persons living with HIV, was temporarily closed to new enrollees last month after it ran out of money.

Last week (July 30), Gov. Lowry partially reopened the program by providing emergency funding to cover the costs of standard medication for HIV patients. However, a new class of costly medications, including protease inhibitors, is still not available.

In testimony before the state Senate Health and Long-term Care committee last Friday (Aug. 2), Lowry said the state is committed to ensuring that all people eligible for the APDP program have access to protease inhibitors and other retroviral medications.

Lowry noted, however, that the both state and federal government will need to provide increased funding. The governor also cited the importance of working with pharmaceutical companies to pursue lowering their drug prices, working with insurance companies to ensure they cover the new medications and seeking private sector contributions to offset the cost of the program, which is currently $3.4 million in debt.

The Department of Health closed enrollment in the APDP program July 17 after enrollment increased from 475 in January to 835 in July. Program costs climbed from an average of $53,000 per month in 1995 to $143,803 in July. While the department anticipated that program costs would increase, the magnitude of the increase in enrollment and claims costs far exceeded projections.

The Department of Health will also hold a public hearing in Seattle at Seattle Central Community College on Aug. 7 from 4 to 7 p.m.

"We want to involve everyone in developing ways to ensure that all people living with HIV and AIDS have access to the medications they need to live healthy and productive lives," Lowry said.


For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office, (360)753-6790.