California AIDS Groups React to Gov. Davis' Budget Proposal

Although most AIDS programs in California were "spared ... devastating cuts," AIDS groups across the state reacted with concern over Gov. Gray Davis' (D) proposed 2003-2004 budget proposal. Under the proposal, California AIDS Drug Assistance Program beneficiaries with incomes of more than 200% of the federal poverty level would be required to pay a copayment of $25 or $35 per prescription (AIDS Project Los Angeles release, 1/10). People with incomes at about 400% of the federal poverty level who still qualify for assistance will pay copayments of up to $50 per prescription (Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center release, 1/10). Beneficiaries with incomes between 200% and 400% of the federal poverty level, or between $21,643 and $30,233 annually, will now pay between $1,299 and $1,814 each year for antiretroviral drugs received through ADAP (AIDS Healthcare Foundation release, 1/10). While the budget proposal includes $9 million in additional funding for ADAP, $7.2 million of those funds come directly from the new copayments (San Francisco AIDS Foundation release, 1/10). Further, the proposed budget increase for ADAP "won't be enough to meet demand," according to AIDS Project Los Angeles officials (APLA release, 1/10). Davis has not yet proposed how to eliminate a projected $11 million to $16 million shortfall for ADAP, but San Francisco AIDS Foundation officials say some options include limiting enrollment in the program or removing drugs from the ADAP formulary. Davis has also proposed cutting $1.25 million from AIDS prevention efforts statewide and "scaling back" AIDS research by the University of California by $2.3 million (SFAF release, 1/10). The following are reactions to Davis' budget proposal:
  • AIDS Healthcare Foundation: "We appreciate the priority the governor is giving to HIV/AIDS during the state's budget crisis, but instead of deep reductions on grossly overpriced medications, this plan digs deep into the pockets of the poor people with AIDS to pay those profits. ... [T]hese cuts move in the wrong direction," Michael Weinstein, president of AHF, said (AHF release, 1/10).
  • AIDS Project Los Angeles: "These statewide cuts will have a devastating impact on people living with HIV/AIDS, especially communities of color, which are already disproportionately impacted. ... It's a dire situation for people living with HIV/AIDS. We need leadership on increasing state revenues and on the issue of affordable drugs. Otherwise, the programs that serve people with HIV/AIDS will have to scale back or set up waiting lists for services," Daniel Montoya, APLA director of government affairs, said (APLA release, 1/10).
  • Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center: "Health and service providers expected the budget cuts to be painful, and they are. [I]f ADAP co-pays are implemented, our HIV-positive clients will have to choose between life-saving medications and food and rent," Rebecca Isaacs, LAGLC interim executive director, said (LAGLC release, 1/10).
  • San Francisco AIDS Foundation: "Governor Davis has a strong record of support for HIV/AIDS services and has fully funded the AIDS Drug Assistance Program in the past, but this year his proposal falls short. Although we recognize the enormous budget shortfall faced by the state, we are disappointed that this budget proposal does not provide significant funds for ADAP and includes cuts to other HIV programs," Fred Dillon, SFAF policy director, said (SFAF release, 1/10).

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