New York Minority Legislative Caucus Calls on Pataki To Restore $12M in AIDS Funding to State Budget
Members of the New York state minority legislative caucus yesterday urged Gov. George Pataki (R) to restore the nearly $12 million in funding for AIDS prevention programs that was cut from his proposed budget and called for an additional $96 million in funding for antiretroviral drugs, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. Pataki's budget currently allots $2.6 billion for AIDS funding in the state, a $288 million increase over the last fiscal year, Kevin Quinn, spokesperson for the state Budget Division, said. He added that 80% of the $2.6 billion is scheduled to be spent on minorities. The proposed budget cuts $11.9 million from the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, which provides AIDS prevention education programs and legal, medical and housing services for people with HIV/AIDS. The group urged the restoration of prevention funds, citing new statistics that show that 90% of HIV-positive women in New York are black or Hispanic. "This problem will continue to exist unless we make it a priority to target those in need to fight this disease, and women of color are most in need," Assembly member Roger Green (D), chair of the Black, Puerto Rican and Hispanic Legislative Caucus, said, adding, "We don't want this problem to be marginalized." More than one-fourth of the 56,000 AIDS cases in the state are women, and of those women, 91% are minorities -- 60.7% black and 30.1% Hispanic. In addition, AIDS cases among women in New York state account for 25% of the total number of AIDS cases nationwide, according to a 2001-2002 state report. The caucus also asked Pataki to provide in the budget an additional $96 million for antiretroviral drugs to be distributed through the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program, an amount the governor had originally proposed through the Health Care Reform Act reauthorization bill. The program provides antiretroviral drugs and medical services to 22,000 uninsured people living with AIDS. "No governor has done more to combat AIDS and HIV than Gov. Pataki, and even in the face of the largest budget gap in state history, he has proposed a budget that has increased AIDS funding by $300 million," Quinn said (Adcox, AP/Long Island Newsday, 4/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.