County Immunization Registries, AIDS Project Los Angeles Denied Funding Allocated in Budget
The Department of Finance has denied requests to exempt a Los Angeles not-for-profit AIDS program and five county programs to improve childhood immunization rates from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) freeze on state contracts announced in December, the Sacramento Bee reports. As a result, the counties and the AIDS project will not be reimbursed for "hundreds of thousands of dollars" allocated to them in the fiscal year 2003-2004 state budget, according to the Bee. Last year, AIDS Project Los Angeles and immunization registry programs in Riverside, Los Angeles, Marin, San Mateo and San Luis Obispo counties received letters notifying them that funds for their operations had been allocated in the state budget. However, because of delays in paperwork, none received signed agreements about their funding from the state by Dec. 5, when Schwarzenegger froze state contracts that had not been executed. Gary Feldman, director of Riverside County's community health agency, said state paperwork is "often delayed," so counties commonly front money for state-funded health programs to "avoid interruptions in service," according to the Bee. Now, the counties and AIDS Project Los Angeles have been told that they will not receive the money that had been allocated for them, despite the fact that "10 months into the fiscal year," the groups have spent "much of the money ... on faith that they would be reimbursed by the state," the Bee reports. Together the counties spend about $850,000 per year on the registries, and AIDS Project Los Angeles has spent $95,000 on a program -- created in response to a state request for AIDS prevention services -- that offers outreach to sexually active people with AIDS.
Department of Finance spokesperson H.D. Palmer said the state denied requests to exempt the immunization registry and the AIDS project from the freeze because their efforts focus on long-term health issues, rather than immediate concerns. He added that the Schwarzenegger administration might "consider paying some of the money that has already been spent," according to the Bee. Feldman said, "How can counties continue to operate under the assumption that contracts will be executed? This is a horrible precedent. The implications go far beyond this particular contract. It completely transforms the state-local partnership." Craig Thompson, director of AIDS Project Los Angeles, said, "Now we're in a real bind. We don't have any idea if we should be continuing to provide these services." He added, "We've always operated in good faith with the state. We've always relied on getting these contracts" (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 5/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.