ILLINOIS: STATE WILL COVER ONLY ONE NEW AIDS DRUG
About 3,000 AIDS patients in the state who cannot afford toThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
buy their own medication but who do not qualify for Medicaid will
only be able to get one of three new AIDS drugs through the
state's AIDS Drug Reimbursement Program, CHICAGO TRIBUNE reports.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced that it will
cover only saquinavir, one of three new AIDS medications known as
protease inhibitors. The department's announcement followed the
General Assembly's refusal to provide the $3 million needed for
the program to provide all three protease inhibitors now on the
THE COST: TRIBUNE reports that paying for saquinavir "will
come at a cost:" 82 of the other 112 drugs covered by the AIDS
program will dropped. These medications include antibiotics,
which help patients fight off infections, and medicine to help
ease diarrhea and nausea, conditions which "often accompany"
AIDS. In addition, the program will begin requiring patients to
share some of the cost of drugs as of July 1.
IMPACT: TRIBUNE notes that the state's refusal to pay for
all of the AIDS drugs "provides more incentive for AIDS patients
to spend their own assets and go on Medicaid," which covers the
three protease inhibitors. Only four states -- California, New
York, Texas and Wisconsin -- have decided to pay for all three
drugs. Illinois and Pennsylvania "are believed to be" the only
other states that provide coverage "for even one of the drugs."
LEGISLATIVE ACTION: State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D)
introduced a bill Friday that would appropriate $6.7 million to
the drug program; however, "the Legislature will not meet until
November to consider any emergency funding." State Sen. Tom
Walsh (R) said that lawmakers may be "more inclined" to vote to
cover the three drugs "as they become more familiar with" the
issue. "Next year we'll have more information on the drugs. If
this is something that is going to make people's lives better, I
don't think you'd find anybody who'd be against that," he said