Friday, April 21, 2006

Action alert: Attend DSHS stakeholder hearing

Texas AIDS Network has issued an action alert (PDF) regarding the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Stakeholder hearing on the 2008-2009 legislative appropriations request. Members of the Texas HIV/AIDS community are encouraged to attend the hearing to voice their concerns about funding for HIV.

The alert lists several talking points that might be used in developing testimony:
  • DSHS LAR must include a request for increased funding for HIV medications. This is necessary to avert shortfalls in the next biennium. Without the funds, the program will be forced to end new enrollments and create waiting lists. People who must wait for their medications have less successful health outcomes, resulting in hospitalization and in some (documented) cases death.
  • DSHS must give the LAR for HIV a high priority in its request. Despite the projection of a surplus in the state budget, there is no guarantee that appropriators will understand the importance of funding HIV medications without some guidance from the department. The clearest guidance that can be given is to give this appropriation request a high priority.
  • DSHS must think outside of the box in formulating its request for funding. The past strategy of limiting requests to current services and basing the request on the most conservative of projections has led to a vicious cycle of requesting increases that turn out to be insufficient to fund the demand for services.
  • DSHS must begin to look at the THMP with new eyes. The current formulary does not address issues of co-morbidity and co-infection. While there is some decrease in the need for a full arsenal of medications for opportunistic infections because of HAART, there in an increase in need to address the side effects of HAART. In addition, co-infection with tuberculosis or Hepatitis C has an effect on the success of HAART. THMP, as an ADAP program, was established to fill in the gaps in care for people with HIV/AIDS. Limiting the formulary is a gap that needs to be filled.
  • DSHS must seek to improve THMP rather than maintain the status quo. The list of medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of HIV is not static. Financial planning that is static and does not anticipate changes in the formulary will lead to substandard care.

The wise reader would memorize these talking points. It's not that there will be a test at the end of the day, but you will probably hear these talking points over and over again during the next 12 months. If you memorize them, you can chant along with us. ;)

So check out the alert. Just to make sure that folks know how to interpret our alerts, we have a guide: "Components of a Texas AIDS Network Action Alert." If that's not enough, here's our guide on what to do: "Acting on Action Alerts." Belts and Suspenders 'R Us.

No comments: