Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
New York City Council Members Say Proposed Health Budget Cuts Would Hurt Minority Groups Affected By HIV/AIDS
New York City Council members yesterday "battled" with state Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden over proposed budget cuts that council members said would "disproportionately" affect minority groups, who have high rates of HIV and other diseases, the New York Times reports. Testifying before the Council's Health Committee, Frieden predicted that state budget constraints would lead to layoffs, closures of health clinics and cuts in many city health programs, including HIV testing and other HIV/AIDS prevention services. Frieden also said that the $5 million requested by the council for HIV/AIDS assistance would not be available. The cuts come as part of an effort to reduce the state's matching funds for public health programs and close the city's budget gap. State cuts alone would reduce overall spending by $50 million over the remainder of this fiscal year and the beginning of the next, which begins July 1. Council Member Christine Quinn (D), chair of the Health Committee, was "visibly angered" by Frieden's description of state cutbacks, saying that the council's request of $5 million perhaps had been cut by Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R), according to the Times. Frieden argued that the money was never officially included in the department's baseline budget. "We can do semantics about the baseline. ... But the reality is, as of July 1, 2002, there was $5 million. And if we pass the budget as it is today, which I doubt we will, where there was $5 million, there would be zero," Quinn said, adding that she did not want the council's commitment to HIV/AIDS to be "misrepresented" if the cuts are made. Frieden insisted that his "hands are tied," according to the Times. "I would respectfully ask the Council to tell me where you'd like me to cut. ... Should I stop issuing birth and death certificates? Should I not investigate severe acute respiratory syndrome? Should I close a TB clinic somewhere? Should I stop treating STDs? Should I stop doing HIV prevention? I'm all ears," Frieden said (Christian, New York Times, 3/19).
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