Welvista-Florida Bridge Program

February 10, 2011

Welvista Steps In To Serve Florida’s Uninsured HIV Population

With thousands of HIV patients in Florida on the brink of losing essential state-funded prescription drug assistance, Welvista has announced a new commitment to ensure these patients continue to receive needed medications.

Beginning February 14, Welvista and its partners in the pharmaceutical industry will provide HIV medications to approximately 6,500 Florida residents who currently receive those drugs through the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). Due to a state budget crisis, Florida’s ADAP was expected to exhaust all available funds and shut down in early February if an emergency solution was not implemented.

The operational agreement between Welvista and the state of Florida will allow the transition of approximately 6,500 of their nearly 10,000 active clients to Welvista. Welvista will provide medications to these clients until the next ADAP fiscal year, which begins April 1, when Florida’s renewed allocation of federal Ryan White/ADAP funds becomes available. Clients will then again receive their medications from Florida’s ADAP program.

“We are very concerned about the number of under- and uninsured who are at risk of losing essential assistance as a result of the deepening budget crises across the nation,” said Welvista CEO Ken Trogdon. “Thanks to our partners in the pharmaceutical industry, we are fortunate to be able to bridge this critical need in Florida’s ADAP today. We will continue to work with our partners to develop the kind of sustainable solutions that will help address the needs of the under- and uninsured while providing significant savings for healthcare providers.”

Abbott Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), Gilead Sciences, Merck and Co., Tibotec Therapeutics and ViiV Healthcare already participate with Welvista to expedite access to HIV medications for ADAP clients on waiting lists in 10 states, including Florida. Abbott, BMS, Gilead, ViiV, and Merck have agreed to participate in this bridge program brokered by the FPC and will provide medications to Welvista for these additional clients in Florida on a one-time, emergency basis.

With a grant from the Heinz Family Philanthropies and Abbott Laboratories, Welvista began serving ADAP waiting list clients as part of its mission in July 2010.

Nationally, state ADAPs are situated in the eye of a “perfect storm.” Thousands continue to enroll in state ADAPs each year due to the effects from the economic recession. Meanwhile, a litany of factors is combining to further squeeze these state programs:
• Rising drug prices on already-expensive medications. Some companies have agreed to price freezes for ADAPs while others continue to take price hikes, limited by law for ADAPs to be no more than the rate of inflation.
• Minimal increases in federal appropriations. The federal ADAP contribution has shrunk from approximately 70 percent to 50 percent of the overall national ADAP budget in recent years.
• Significant state budget cuts.
• Larger client caseloads due to HIV-positive individuals living longer. Positive developments such as national efforts to significantly expand HIV testing and linkages into care and new HIV treatment guidelines calling for earlier therapeutic treatments have further pushed ADAPs to a fiscal tipping point from which recovery will be difficult.

The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) reports that as of January 27, 2011, there are 5,779 individuals on ADAP waiting lists in 10 states. Twenty states have instituted, or anticipate instituting cost containment measures other than ADAP waiting lists before the end of the ADAP fiscal year ending in March.

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