Access to Health Care
WNCAP supports improving access to preventive health care for all those living with or at risk of HIV disease to improve health outcomes and reduce transmission rates.
In the state of North Carolina, there are approximately 35,000 people living with HIV. Of newly diagnosed individuals, over 25% had a concurrent AIDS or late HIV diagnosis in 2010, indicating that they probably had HIV for at least five to seven years (CDC, 2006). Late stage HIV infection is often accompanied by serious, life-threatening complications that require immediate medical intervention.
AIDS Drug Assistance Program
The AIDS DRUG ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, commonly known as ADAP, has been the main public program for ensuring that uninsured, underinsured and low-income people living with HIV & AIDS can gain access to life-saving medications. It can reduce overall health care costs by minimizing health complications for affected individuals. And, it benefits the community by helping to reduce HIV transmission.
State budget cuts threaten the ability of the program to meet the needs of the growing AIDS epidemic. Cost-cutting efforts during the recession included tightened eligibility requirements and fewer drugs available. In 2010, the program had to close enrollment because it didn’t have enough money to add participants. The list for people waiting for medication in North Carolina grew to over 800. The cost-cutting measures were eventually lifted in late 2012 but North Carolina budget negotiations need to be closely monitored in order to protect this essential program. A fully funded AIDS Drug Assistance Program is critical to addressing individual health care needs and reducing transmission rates.
Many hardworking people in industries like child care, construction, cosmetology, elder care, food service and retail fall into the insurance coverage gap. They include parents, students and veterans yet they are not eligible for Marketplace subsidies or Medicaid. Currently, North Carolina’s Medicaid only serves low income children, seniors, people with disabilities and some parents. North Carolina legislators have the opportunity to accept federal money to give the working poor access to health insurance through Medicaid expansion. Preventive health care would increase access to HIV testing and provide linkage to care, improving health outcomes, reducing the spread of infectious diseases and lowering mortality rates. People without health insurance may delay care and be compelled to go to emergency rooms for treatment, which may lead to costly medical interventions and hospitalizations. Preventive care is better for the patient and less expensive for our state. Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina will save lives and save money.
To learn more about who’s affected and to how to get involved go to NC Left Me Out.
For a county by county breakdown of the fiscal impact of not expanding Medicaid go to The Cone Health Foundation for their detailed report.