Massachusetts Lawmakers Plan to Finalize ‘Long-Overdue’ State Budget This Week
Massachusetts lawmakers plan to finalize today the "long-overdue" state fiscal year 2002 budget that will include $650 million in reductions in health care, human services, higher education and the judiciary, the Boston Globe reports. The budget plan, 141 days overdue, will include "some cuts" in public health funding but will restore the state's hepatitis C prevention campaign (Ranalli, Boston Globe, 11/19). Advocates were "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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/14). State lawmakers plan to finalize the budget by midnight tonight, with the state House and Senate set to vote on the plan tomorrow, the last day of the legislative session (Boston Globe, 11/19).
Revised Swift Proposal
Meanwhile, acting Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift (R) revised her budget proposal over the weekend to "scale back" health care reductions in a $22.5 billion budget proposal that she unveiled earlier this month (Flint, Boston Globe, 11/18). Under a plan introduced earlier this month, Swift had proposed a $66 million reduction for public health programs, including a reduction of $17 million for AIDS prevention programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/13). The revised plan includes $700 million in budget reductions and would depend less on last year's budget surplus than the plan proposed by the state Legislature (Boston Globe, 11/19). Swift plans to restore funding for several public health programs, including AIDS prevention, smoking cessation, substance abuse, breast cancer screening, family health and Medicaid administration (Boston Globe, 11/18). The Boston Globe reports that Swift "backed down" on the budget reductions in the "politically sensitive" area of public health after a number of groups, such as the American Cancer Society, criticized the proposal (Boston Globe, 11/19).