HIV/AIDS Advocates in California Concerned About Funding Reduction
HIV/AIDS advocates in California worry that the state might be at a disadvantage due to the high quality of care it offers HIV-positive people and the way in which AIDS cases are counted, affecting Ryan White Care Act HIV/AIDS funding calculations, which could lead to a $19 million loss for programs in the state's nine metropolitan areas, the Sacramento Bee reports. AIDS cases in metropolitan areas currently are counted both as part of a city total and as part of a state total for separate funding streams. HHS, to ensure equal distribution of federal funds, has proposed eliminating the "double counting" system. Under the proposed funding rules, 75% of funds would have to be used for core medical services, provisions that protect against drastic funding cuts would be eliminated and planning councils that decide fund distribution would be voluntary. The state Assembly next week is expected to consider a bill (SB 699) that would create a names-based reporting system for new HIV cases. The Senate already has approved the bill. The proposed legislation could go to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in two weeks, the Sacramento Bee reports. California advocates believe the proposed change in federal law might lead to a 62% reduction of the current $31 million metropolitan areas receive in HIV/AIDS funding and lead to the loss of funding for transportation, counseling and other services (Lin, Sacramento Bee, 3/3).
Los Angeles Times Examines Closure of AIDS Hospice
The Los Angeles Times on Saturday examined the closing of Carl Bean House, the last hospice and 24-hour facility for people living with AIDS in Los Angeles County. The hospice, which opened in 1992, will close in about three months, when the last patient is moved to another nursing home, regular hospice or family home. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which operates the facility, decided last month to close the hospice when the county Board of Supervisors cut the facility's funding for low-income patients by more than half, the Times reports. The closure "is emblematic of advances in treatment of many AIDS patients, who are living longer and in better health," the Times reports. John Schunhoff, the county's chief of operations for public health, said the need for hospice services has decreased as fewer people die of AIDS-related complications. At any given time in 2005, there were just three to five county-funded patients at Carl Bean House, Schunhoff said, adding that there are other, less-expensive alternatives for people living with AIDS, such as referring them to regular hospices or nursing homes. However, Thomas Coates, an AIDS expert at the University of California-Los Angeles, said "for minority and poor people, [AIDS is] the same disease it was 10 years ago," adding that the care offered at Carl Bean House is "exactly where it needs to be ... (for) the people who get the poorest care for HIV and AIDS" (Lin, Los Angeles Times, 3/4).