Calif. Governor’s Revised State Budget Proposal Drops Caps on ADAP Enrollment, Increases HIV/AIDS Funding
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Thursday released a $102.8 billion revised budget proposal for fiscal year 2004-2005, including nearly $36.1 billion for public health programs and an increase in funding for HIV/AIDS programs, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports (Jablon, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 5/13). The revised budget drops Schwarzenegger's original plan to cap enrollment and create a waiting list for the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (Ainsworth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/14). ADAP -- which is financed with both state and federal funds -- provides HIV treatment to low-income, uninsured and underinsured HIV-positive individuals. The state Senate Subcommittee on Health and Human Services already had rejected the proposal, which would have capped enrollment in the program at the current level of 23,900 enrollees. If implemented, the cap would have prevented more than 1,400 HIV-positive people in California from accessing antiretroviral drugs and existing enrollees would have faced reduced benefits. The original budget also would have cut funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs by 2% (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/9). However, the newly proposed budget would increase state ADAP funding by 13%, bringing the program's total budget to $234 million, according to an AIDS Project Los Angeles release (APLA release, 5/13). The $27 million increase brings state spending on the program to $67 million and would provide the $25 million needed because of increased enrollment and drug prices and the use of additional drugs by current beneficiaries, according to a San Francisco AIDS Foundation release (SFAF release, 5/13). Schwarzenegger currently is working with lawmakers in an effort to get the budget passed by June 30, the last day of the fiscal year, according to the Los Angeles Times (Halper/Salladay, Los Angeles Times, 5/14).
Health advocates were "relieved" by Schwarzenegger's revisions to the state budget, according to the San Jose Mercury News (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 5/14). "We are very pleased that the governor was willing to reconsider his position," SFAF Director of State and Local Affairs Dana Van Gorder said, adding, "Ultimately, money spent to prevent or delay the onset of AIDS saves the state a substantial amount of money in acute health care costs." He added, "This is both a humane and cost-effective program, and the governor deserves credit for recognizing that" (SFAF release, 5/13). APLA Executive Director Craig Thompson said, "It is clear that both the administration and the Legislature understand that this is no time to scale back the state's efforts to fight AIDS" because "more people than ever" in the state are HIV-positive (APLA release, 5/13).