Thursday, July 24, 2008

Reductions in Funding ....

Cross Posted to Clintonistas for Obama

When I went to the pharmacy yesterday, I noticed a petition to the Governor and the CA State legislature trying to prevent a 10% cut in funding of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act. This enraged me, as California is only spending an average of 2 months medication costs per patient per year. Moreover, a large chunk of the funding goes to the hardest hit urban areas. In short, the LA and SF metros get over 50% of the funding, and the rest of the state is relegated to fight over the rest. While I’m all for money going where it’s needed, the earmark needs to be expanded to truly serve the population living with HIV and AIDS.

Now I know that the Ryan White CARE Act has long been a target of the GOP and fiscal conservatives, but the current funding levels are shameful. While the total amount that is earmarked for the fund seems large at $255,305,160 (FY2006 as reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation in partnership with US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration), when you take into account there are 92,560 reported cases in the State of California (31 May, 2008, California Dept of Public Health, Office of AIDS), it boils down to an average $2758.27 per patient per year. An average month’s medication cost for someone who is taking Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HIV Meds) is around $1400.00. With the proposed 10% cutback, the average amount spent per reported case would drop to an average of $2482.44 per year.

In 2005, there was a compromise measure enacted by Congress (when reauthorizing the Ryan White CARE Act) that limited how the monies are allocated. Title’s I and II of the act are limited to spending 75% on a core set of medical services, including the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), and places like the Center for AIDS Research, Education, and Services (CARES), and the other 25% used for “Wrap Around Services” such as housing assistance and food / meal assistance. Those levels are good for places like Sacramento, but don’t work for places like San Francisco, where donors have taken the financial burden off the clinics and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s medical outreach programs. In San Francisco, the SF AIDS Foundation reports that they only use an average of 60% out of the 75% medical allocation, but cannot reallocate those surplus monies to bolster their ailing non-medical assistance programs. Other agencies, such as CARES in Sacramento, are fighting to keep every dollar they get for medical care as they are severely under-funded, and are the only such agency in the California central valley.

So, in short, when I go to the Democratic Platform meeting next week, this is the issue I will bring. This is one of the many issues that need to be addressed by Congress under the Obama Administration, and one that will be kept silent as it’s not a big news maker. But thankfully for myself (and the 92,559 other reported cases of HIV and AIDS in California), I’ve got a big mouth ... and am willing to use it to effect change.

Just my 2 Cents – comments and suggestions always welcome.