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Higher and Higher

Higher and Higher


Health care spending in the United States rose 8.7% in 2001, the fastest rate in almost a decade, according to government statistics. Americans spent about $1.4 trillion'or about $5,000 for each person'on health care services in 2001. But perhaps more ominous than rising costs is the potential tightening of eligibility requirements for Medicaid and AIDS Drug Assistance Programs in many states as an effort to reduce huge budget deficits, says Bill Arnold, chairman of the ADAP Working Group. Hundreds or even thousands of people in each state could soon lose access to free or cheap health care and anti-HIV medications as the changes are implemented. With the South being home to the nation's largest percentage of people living in poverty, says Gene Copello, executive director of Florida AIDS Action, a combination of rising costs and reduced access to government health care programs could prove disastrous. Kathy Hiers, chief executive officer of AIDS Alabama, adds, 'As is the case with any health care issue, it's always the low-income people who fare the worst. The lower your income, the less likely you are to get adequate care. More expensive care is only going to make the situation worse.'

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