Democratic Lawmakers Ask Governor To Reconsider Proposed Budget Reductions for HIV/AIDS Programs
Twenty-two Democratic members of Congress from California on Tuesday sent Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) a letter to request that he reconsider proposed budget reductions for the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program and other HIV/AIDS programs, the Chico Enterprise-Record reports. In his fiscal year 2004-2005 budget, Schwarzenegger has proposed to limit enrollment in ADAP -- a federal- and state-funded program that provides antiretroviral medications to uninsured and underinsured patients with HIV/AIDS -- to the current level of 23,900, a move that would place an estimated 1,440 individuals per year on a waiting list for the program. The budget proposal also would provide no additional funds for ADAP. Finance Department spokesperson H.D. Palmer said that Schwarzenegger hopes to "try to provide some cost controls without changing eligibility or removing people." Combination HIV/AIDS antiretroviral therapy costs an estimated $10,000 to $12,000 per patient per year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Each year, an estimated 8,000 to 9,000 state residents become infected with HIV/AIDS.
In the letter, Democratic lawmakers said that the proposal to cap enrollment in ADAP would "affect the state's overburdened health care system," adding, "Individuals who are denied treatment and placed on a waiting list for services will undoubtedly turn to our already strained public health system for care as they struggle to cope with the opportunistic infections that will eventually take their life." The letter also criticized Schwarzenegger for proposals in his budget that would reduce Medi-Cal reimbursements for physicians by 10% and require beneficiaries to pay premiums for some services because "such changes would adversely affect the quality and quantity of services available to many HIV/AIDS patients who are in dire need" (Vesely, Chico Enterprise-Record, 2/18).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.