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Nevada Shelves Program Cuts in Victory for HIV Patients: Federal 340B Changes Forestalled

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LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and a coalition of nonprofit HIV providers and the people they serve throughout Nevada welcomed news that the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) has delayed plans to roll out major changes to the state's 340B Drug Pricing Program, a federally administered, privately funded program that HIV nonprofits rely on and use to deliver crucial, lifesaving care and services to Nevadans living with HIV or AIDS.

According to a letter issued by the Nevada Medication Assistance Program (NMAP letter) yesterday, NMAP, which was to begin rolling out the changes on January 18, 2021 "… will be temporarily postponing any changes to the program through April 1, 2021, if not longer. This delay will allow DPBH additional time to review the impact of community partners using the federal 340B program and the program income received directly to them and the impact of rebate revenue received at NMAP."

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After Nevada health officials first announced the plan, many community partners and nonprofit HIV providers decried the state's action, warning it could have a profound and negative impact on patient care.

"We're glad NMAP finally heard the community's objections and concerns regarding the harms of their decision," said Patricia Bermudez, Senior Regional Director for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "We now look forward to working with NMAP to reach a solution that benefits all Nevadans living with HIV/AIDS."

The 340B program, which costs taxpayers nothing, allows Ryan White HIV Clinics and providers to acquire HIV drugs at a steep discount, using the savings from those discounts to pay for HIV services not covered by their Ryan White grants. Outreach for those persons with HIV who have fallen out of care, nutrition support at food banks, medication adherence counseling, case management, transportation, employment counseling, and housing support all depend on the savings from the 340B program. If the state takes away this resource, it will blow a huge hole in the health care safety net for people living with HIV. In addition, the State's change will significantly impact patients' continuum of care, which could become a public health issue in the long run.

Reporter Savanna Strott of the Nevada Independent neatly distilled the essence of the dispute between the nonprofit HIV providers and Nevada Health Department in a story posted online January 6th ("State, providers at odds over millions in HIV medication rebates"):

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"The state and providers are fighting for control over the same pot of money. In providers' hands, funds go directly to localized services for patients. But in the state's hands, funds must go through layers of red tape before reaching providers, which must then use funds in a limited capacity defined by the state."

Some of the advocates and HIV providers also ran an advocacy ad (340B ad) targeting Nevada health officials and legislators urging state officials to not to interfere with the state's successful 340B program. Full page color ads ran today (1/13/21) in the Las Vegas Review Journal; the online newsletter, The Nevada Independent and in the state capital in the Carson City Appeal.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.5 million individuals in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us @aidshealthcare.stats
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