The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has praised Governor Schwarzenegger for signing AB 1367 (Darrell Steinberg, D, Sacramento John Laird, D, Santa Cruz). The bill creates a pilot project for up to 10 HIV/AIDS pharmacies to provide additional medication management services at a rate of $9.50 per prescription.
"The Governor's signature demonstrates his recognition that HIV/AIDS pharmacies provide a unique life-preserving service that is beyond the services that one gets at the local Walgreens and Rite-Aid," said AHF President Michael Weinstein. "While most of us are fairly relaxed about taking medication, people with HIV or AIDS jeopardize their lives unless they rigidly adhere to a schedule. Medication management services are essential to ensure a patient sticks to that schedule."
AB 1367 stemmed from budget action taken earlier this year. As a cost-savings measure, the Governor proposed reducing the amount of money paid by Medi-Cal to pharmacies. The Legislature accepted that proposal with one exception-an exemption for HIV/AIDS pharmacies. While the Governor vetoed that exemption, his administration immediately engaged in discussions with AHF, other providers and legislators to seek a compromise that would reduce the harm of the pharmacy reduction on HIV/AIDS pharmacies.
AB 1367, which contains that proposal, protects against greater costs to the state. "It is undeniable that recent treatment advances are keeping people with HIV alive longer and are keeping many of them from progressing to AIDS," said Weinstein. "The cost of this program is far less than the cost of treating and caring for a person who develops full-blown AIDS."
AHF is the largest nonprofit HIV/AIDS provider in the United States with clinics in several US states as well as Africa and Central America. AHF pharmacies serve nearly 1000 patients in Los Angeles, Alameda and San Francisco counties.