California Counties Facing Federal HIV/AIDS Funding Cuts; Pelosi Sends Letter to HHS Secretary
Programs for HIV-positive residents in three California counties are facing cuts in some services after HHS officials announced funding allocations that will result in an annual loss of $8.6 million in federal funds for the counties, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties receive funding for HIV/AIDS services under the Ryan White Program. However, the Ryan White Reauthorization Bill (HR 6143), which President Bush signed into law in December 2006, redistributes some funds from cities to rural areas.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday sent a letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt seeking an explanation for the cuts. She said the decision goes against an agreement reached in January between the Bush administration and congressional Democrats that would have maintained federal funding for all three counties.
Formulas under the Ryan White Reauthorization Bill have resulted in an estimated $7.4 million shortfall for San Francisco, which has the third-largest HIV-positive population among U.S. cities. After being notified of the cuts on Monday, San Francisco's HIV Health Services Planning Council proposed a 36% reduction in Ryan White funding for meal deliveries, emergency housing and benefits counseling for the city's HIV-positive residents. The council voted to maintain full Ryan White funding for core services, including primary medical care, mental health and substance abuse counseling, home health care and case management (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/23).
Judy Andrews, a spokesperson for the Health Resources and Services Administration, said in a statement released on Wednesday that Ryan White funding to San Francisco was "made consistent with the law." Pelosi's office has scheduled a meeting with HRSA for Thursday to discuss the situation (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 5/23).