Massachusetts Health Care Providers Concerned Statewide AIDS Budget Cuts Will Affect Jobs, Quality of Care
Massachusetts providers who perform AIDS-related work are concerned that approximately 300 HIV/AIDS patients could "lose basic care" and an additional 10,000 patients could face "significantly curtailed" services because of a $12.2 million state budget cut for AIDS funding, the Boston Globe reports. In addition, 28 AIDS-related state workers and as many as 150 employees of community health centers could lose their jobs due to the funding cuts (Klein, Boston Globe, 11/30). Massachusetts allotted $51 million for AIDS programs last fiscal year, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports. However, the Massachusetts Legislature last week approved a budget that includes a $12.2 million reduction in AIDS spending (Nangle, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 11/29). According to the Globe, Massachusetts acting Gov. Jane Swift's (R) original budget recommendations called for eliminating $7.1 million "from AIDS accounts." Administration and Finance Secretary Stephen Crosby said that those proposed cuts would have targeted "awareness and outreach only, and not direct services to patients." Mary Ann Hart, spokesperson for Project ABLE, a Massachusetts AIDS lobbying group, said the state "runs the risk of sacrificing years of progress on slowing the spread of HIV." She added, "Sometimes people think that prevention is not as important as services. But prevention in a situation like AIDS is critical to keeping the number of new cases down" (Boston Globe, 11/30). Edla Bloom, executive director of AIDS Project Worcester, said, "I can't tell you what these cuts mean to APW or any of the agencies or services that are connected to the Department of Public Health and the AIDS line item." The AIDS funding reduction will be "especially devastating" to the public health department because it has been spending money based on the assumption that this year's AIDS funding would be the same as last year's allocations. The budget must still be approved by Swift, but some AIDS advocates are not holding out much hope that Swift will restore the funding. "My hope for the governor deciding she would like to do something different [from the Legislature] is pretty slim," Bloom said (Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 11/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.