Health Advocates Criticize N.Y. Mayor Giuliani’s Proposed Cuts to HIV, Infant Mortality Programs
Health advocates on Friday criticized New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's (R) $766 million budget cut proposal -- which includes a $2.6 million cut in funding for HIV/AIDS prevention services targeting the African-American and Hispanic communities -- saying the cuts would cause the city's poorest neighborhoods and residents to "suffer the most," the New York Daily News reports (Lombardi, New York Daily News, 12/8). The cuts are part of Giuliani's attempt to reduce a $1.3 billion budget shortfall over the next six months. If left unchecked, the deficit, which was exacerbated by the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, could reach a projected $3.9 billion within 18 months (Polner, Newsday, 12/6). Health advocates "blasted" Giuliani's proposal, which also included a $2.2 million reduction in funds for an educational program to reduce infant mortality, as well as cuts to programs to reduce smoking and substance use. "Our babies are dying," Ngozi Moses of the Brooklyn Task Force on Infant Mortality said, and Rhon Reynolds of the New York AIDS Coalition called the cuts "penny wise and pound foolish." Ronald Johnson, director of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, stated that the proposed cuts suggest that Giuliani thinks "building baseball stadiums is of more importance than fighting HIV infection." There was no immediate reaction from Giuliani, who is scheduled to meet with City Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D) this week to discuss the cuts (New York Daily News, 12/8). A spokesperson for Vallone, who is scheduled to leave office at the end of the month along with the mayor, predicted that the proposed cuts would not pass the City Council unless they are modified. If no agreement is reached by the end of the current term, Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg (R) and the new City Council will be required to balance the budget within one year in order to avoid takeover by a state control board (Newsday, 12/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.