California AIDS Advocates Concerned That Governor’s Revised Budget Has No Increase for ADAP
California Gov. Gray Davis (D) yesterday released his revised state budget for the 2001-02 fiscal year, unveiling numerous cuts and "shifts" in funding, the Los Angeles Times reports (Tamaki, Los Angeles Times, 5/15). Among the programs that will be affected is the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which faces a $15 million funding shortfall next year, according to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. In his proposed budget released in January, Davis included $149 million for the ADAP, which provides over 24,000 Californians with anti-AIDS medications, with California paying nearly a third of that cost and the federal government paying the rest, SFAF said. But the state Department of Finance has estimated that an additional $15 million in state funds is needed next year because of growing enrollment and rising drug costs (SFAF release, 5/14). While Davis' revised budget includes an additional $5 million in funding from federal sources, it does not contain new state money. Project Inform, an HIV/AIDS information and advocacy group, called it "critical" that funding for the ADAP come from additional state resources and not from federal HIV/AIDS funds "intended for other important programs" (Project Inform release, 5/14).
Why the Need For Revision?
A "daunting combination" of increasing energy costs and a drop in tax revenue from stock options caused the governor's office to propose "pared-down" funding for many state programs. State revenue is expected to fall $4.2 billion below Department of Revenue predictions, while spending on social services and other programs needs to increase by $1.5 billion to "keep up" with projected demand, according to the Los Angeles Times. Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg (D) said legislators may make "serious changes" to Davis' proposal (Los Angeles Times, 5/15).
Calling for a 'Compassionate' Increase
Anne Donnelly, Project Inform's public policy director, called the lack of funding for the ADAP "particularly troubling" as HIV/AIDS services have already been "greatly disappointed" by the Bush administration's proposed "flat federal funding" for HIV/AIDS services. "HIV-positive Californians with no other avenue of access to life prolonging medications depend on ADAP. A $15 million shortfall means that ADAP will be forced to cut back in some way or be unable to add new and promising medications to the formulary," she said, calling on Davis to "do at least as much" as former Gov. Pete Wilson (R) and "adequately fund" the ADAP (Project Inform release, 5/14). Dana Van Gorder, director of state and local affairs for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, said her agency "understand[s] budgeting is tough; however, we cannot ignore basic human needs, including access to life-prolonging HIV medications." Van Gorder suggested that Davis reassess the funding and commit California to a "compassionate response" to the AIDS epidemic through "full" funding of the ADAP (SFAF release, 5/14).