State Department of Health Services Director Kenneth Kizer said Monday that the department is relaxing income requirements to enable more AIDS patients to qualify for assistance in obtaining the anti-AIDS drug AZT.
The action, Kizer said, is aimed at helping counties distribute $7.6 million in federal money to make the expensive drug available to poor people.
The department previously limited such assistance for individuals who, based on a formula using the 1987 federal poverty level, had an annual income of about $11,000 a year.
The new guidelines open the way to drug assistance for people with incomes of about $22,000 a year.
The drug will be administered through county hospitals, said department spokeswoman Kassy Edgington. People seeking the drug must have it prescribed by a doctor and must provide copies of their 1987 federal income tax return. People who already can obtain AZT through Medi-Cal or their own health insurance or any other program are ineligible for the assistance.
The drug AZT typically costs patients $8,000 to $10,000 a year.