State Reverses Position, Reimburses Counties, AIDS Project Los Angeles for FY 2003-2004 Allocations
Officials in the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) said at a Senate Budget subcommittee hearing Monday that the state is "expediting checks" to a number of health agencies that previously were told they would not receive reimbursement funds for money already spent on health projects, the Sacramento Bee reports (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 5/11). Last year, AIDS Project Los Angeles and immunization registry programs in Riverside, Los Angeles, Marin, San Mateo and San Luis Obispo counties received letters stipulating that funds for their operations had been allocated in the fiscal year 2003-2004 state budget. However, the counties and AIDS Project Los Angeles did not receive signed agreements about their funding from the state by Dec. 5, when Schwarzenegger issued a freeze on all state contracts that had not been formally approved. The Department of Finance denied initial requests to exempt the AIDS project and immunization programs from the freeze, despite the fact that the counties and AIDS Project Los Angeles already had spent some funds. 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 (California Healthline, 5/7).
"As soon as we realized things were not coming through, we contacted the administration. They have been helpful and positive with us," Maureen O'Hara of AIDS Project Los Angeles said. However, Sen. Wes Chesbro (D-Santa Rosa), who said that a drug treatment center in his district already had closed because it lost its state contract, said, "If I didn't know better, I would think ... (the contract freeze) might be a strategy for eliminating programs without having to make cuts in the budget" (Sacramento Bee, 5/11).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.