Advocates Voice Concern About AIDS Funding Reduction
California advocates are concerned that policy changes to federal HIV/AIDS funding calculations will lead to a $19 million loss for programs in the state's nine designated metropolitan areas, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Currently, AIDS cases in metropolitan areas are counted first as part of a city total and again as part of a state total, according to the Bee. But HHS has proposed eliminating the double counting system to ensure equal distribution of federal funds.
Under the proposed funding rules, 75% of funds would have to be used for core medical services, provisions that protect against drastic funding cuts would be eliminated and planning councils that decide fund distribution would be voluntary.
California advocates believe the change could lead to a 62% reduction of the current $31 million metropolitan areas receive in HIV/AIDS funding and lead to the loss of funding for transportation, counseling and other services.
The Assembly next week is expected to consider a bill (SB 699) that would create a names-based reporting system for HIV cases. The Senate already has approved the bill, and it could go to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in two weeks.
Supporters of the bill say the change is necessary to comply with CDC mandates and protect up to $50 million in federal funding (Lin, Sacramento Bee, 3/3).
In related news, Carl Bean House, the last hospice and 24-hour facility for people living with AIDS in Los Angeles County will close in about three months, when the last patient is moved to another nursing home, regular hospice or family home, the Los Angeles Times reports. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which operates the facility, decided last month to close the hospice when the county Board of Supervisors cut the facility's funding for low-income patients by more than half.
John Schunhoff, the county's chief of operations for public health, said the need for hospice services has decreased as fewer people die of AIDS-related complications (Lin, Los Angeles Times, 3/4).