Federal Funding for HIV/AIDS Services in Los Angeles County Cut by $1.9M
Federal funding for social and medical services for low-income, HIV-positive people in Los Angeles County, has been cut by $1.9 million in 2006, a reduction of 5.2% from 2005, according to information released earlier this week by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to a spokesperson for HRSA, the funding cuts are based on the county's evolving needs and its past performance in providing HIV/AIDS-related services. In FY 2006, the county will receive $34.9 million -- channeled through the Ryan White CARE Act -- for medical and dental services, as well as for transportation, food and mental health benefits for HIV-positive, low-income residents, a decrease from $36.8 million in 2005. Mario Perez, interim director of the county Office of AIDS Programs and Policy, which oversees the funds, said the office might reduce overall services by 5% in response to the federal funding cuts, depending on the amount of state funds it receives. "We took a hit," Perez said, adding, "We need to take a hard look at the investment in HIV programs at the federal level. For many years, we think we've been grossly underfunded." Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a Los Angeles-based not-for-profit group, said the funding cuts mean that there will be "fewer people in treatment and people [will be] getting treated later." Weinstein called on the county to reduce administrative costs and the occurrence of annual audits -- which he has said are excessive -- to compensate for the $1.9 million in losses. However, Perez said his office must respond to federal, state and local funders, who monitor how the money is spent, adding, "It may be excessive, but it's nonnegotiable." According to data from the Los Angeles county Department of Health Services, about 55,000 residents are HIV-positive (Keller, Los Angeles Times, 3/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.