Local and Community News
Florida: AIDS Service Cuts Hurting Bay Area Ill
March 13, 2002
William Harman, 35, has late-stage AIDS and lives alone in the modest north Tampa home where he grew up. With the help of caregivers from Di's Imani, a Pinellas County nonprofit agency, Harman manages the details of his life: 16 medications taken as often as eight times daily, doctor's visits, bills, housekeeping. The agency provides him with two balanced, microwaveable meals daily. "They would give me a ride to the doctor, help me organize my bills and medications," Harman said of the staff. "They would go to the store for me because I get tired just walking from my bed to the front door."
But on March 1, that kind of assistance ended for Harman and 8,500 other Florida AIDS patients -- the result of budget cuts made in December by legislators trying to erase a $1.3 billion shortfall.
The state expects to save $5 million in the budget year with the cuts it made to the Project AIDS Care Waiver program. If the PAC Waiver cuts are not restored in the budget now being debated in the Legislature, the full-year savings would total $10 million.
AIDS activists and caregivers, however, warn that losing those services -- which include meal delivery, home modifications, respiratory and physical therapy, and emergency response -- could push more patients into nursing homes, ultimately a more costly option for taxpayers. About a dozen AIDS groups statewide worked with the state Agency for Health Care Administration to determine what services would be cut. The agencies resisted a state move to eliminate the entire PAC Waiver program.
As for Harman, his meals have been cut from two daily to 27 a month. Deprived of the help of a caregiver, he has missed doctor's appointments and confused his mediation dosages. "It's like a sick dream," he said. "How can they look at me and take my food away and tell me I don't need help?"
03.10.02; Karla Jackson
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.