Sunday, October 17, 2004

Can We talk?? Part 2

In previous editions of this blog, I've vented my frustrations about state government, especially the Department of Human Services,who have "punted" my files from one desk to another. Recently, I heard from a caseworker, who gave me lame excuses and meandering explanations about how this mess occurred. My response: Blah! Blah! Blah! Of course none of this "voice message" to me, made any really sense and now I read that our slim fast Governor, Mike Huckabee has declined to provide any emergency relief to the state's AIDS Drugs Assitance Program from his discretionary fund which totals about $500,000. According to Health Department officials, the plans that they have resorted too, is placing individuals that they can't help on the entangled PAP's of pharmaceutical companies. This calls for a, "can we talk !" Even though these programs are devised to assist patients who can't afford their drugs, they are a juggernaut of paper work that must has every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed or you are well on your way to a drug holiday. As I have investigated, these programs also have a myriad of changing rules and expectations. For instance, criteria for Arkansas has changed at least 3 times over the past year. First you needed to have Viral load information, but you had no insurance to pay for the Lab, then in August, it didn't matter. Sorry, about that $500 bill and the lack of cohesion of information. Let's not mention the "medical advocate" component, who may or may not get your information sent in a timely matter. If not, guess what, you are penalize and sent in search of some one in customer service who can't really affirm if you will get a shipment or when it will be processed. The newest twist for one such program, has the participant updating their profile and getting "script" refills via the internet. Got the picture? Can you really imagine ADH figuring all this out and getting affected people on this medicine merry go round "seamlessly." Aren't these the same folks who have mysteriously re-deployed employees to other post from the STD/ HIV unit, alledgedly confiscasted computers, and is now in the grips of audits and media scrunity . Let's get real and face facts. The real problem here is a leadership vacuum and strategic preparation for dealing with this issue, which has been in the wings for some time now. This state was reported to be in a crisis mode from NASTAD in January 2004 and I personally stumped in Washington D.C. lobbying our congressional delegation about additional federal funding support for state ADAP's. So this dilemma begs that the question. Why do those in charge take the chicken little management approach and wait until the sky is falling before we make a move to rectify situations. I share Rep. Jay Bradfords sentiment that this is just a "dumb move" all the way around and couldn't be more ripe for reality TV. Stay tuned....

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