Critics Say Massachusetts Budget Cuts for AIDS, Hepatitis C Programs Could ‘Reverse Progress’ Against Diseases
Massachusetts health providers and advocates say that the state's proposed budget cuts in AIDS and hepatitis C programs "ris[k] reversing years of progress against disease," the Boston Globe reports. Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift (R) has proposed cutting $17 million from AIDS prevention programs, and cuts have already been made to hepatitis C prevention efforts (Ranalli, Boston Globe, 11/14). Massachusetts health officials announced in October that they are terminating a year-old program designed to educate doctors and those at risk of hepatitis C infection about the disease because of fiscal constraints caused by the ongoing state budget impasse. The proposed $22.9 billion state budget for fiscal year 2002, which began July 1, is now several months late. State agencies are currently operating on provisional budgets that use the lower figure from competing House and Senate budget proposals. The Senate set aside $3.9 million for the hepatitis C program, but the House did not allocate any funding for the program. Hepatitis C treatment programs, however, will not be affected by the end of the prevention program (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/5). Advocates say that they are "disturbed" by the end of the hepatitis C prevention program because it was "proactive and efficient," noting that the cost of early treatment for hepatitis C is approximately $18,000 per person while the cost of a liver transplant is $250,000 per person (Boston Globe, 11/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.