Due to budget cuts, 957 New Jerseyans were at risk of losing their medication coverage under the AIDS Drug Distribution Program (ADDP) this Sunday. In a lengthy letter to the Governor on Wednesday, State Senator Joe Vitale, vice chairman of the Senate Health Committee implored Chris Christie to find the cash to keep the program and the people alive.
Vitale wrote, “The most important thing for a person receiving drug therapy treatment for HIV to do is to strictly adhere to their medication schedule. Missing even one dose allows the virus the opportuntity to grow, further damaging their immune system. Coming on and off drug therapy has been shown to cause HIV to become drug resistant.”
Asked about the drug program, Christie said, “Pharmaceutical companies have agreed to up their rebates significantly on those aids drigs. That will be in approximately another $5 million dollars…..We’ve been able to sercure more federal funding ands so, none of those people are going to lose their eligibility for a minute.”
Christie says he’s been working on this issue for some time and was going to make this announcement yeterday anyway. He says there was no reason for Vitale to “waste paper” by sending him a letter that the press saw before he did. The Governor accuses Vitale of playing politics.
Vitale says, “If the Governor had this problem solved already, then why can't his administration tell me whether the new program will cover the same medications as ADDP and whether new people will be enrolled? The fact of the matter is that the Governor knew about all these funding sources before he sent 957 letters out kicking people off a program they need in order to stay alive. I am happy to talk to him about wasting paper, but let’s start with the 957 letters he now has to send telling these folks they’re back on.
“I have spoken to and e-mailed the administration for months about how these cuts are needless,” adds Vitale. “Now I at least know how to get his attention on an issue.”