New Mexico HIV Funding in Crisis
June 2, 2004
In the next few weeks, New Mexico Health Secretary Patricia Montoya is to consider a recommendation from the Public Health Division (PHD) that the state join 11 others that have closed enrollment to new clients who cannot afford HIV drugs or health insurance.Adapted from:
According to Don Torres, the state's AIDS director, New Mexico has 587 HIV/AIDS patients who receive 78 drugs through the Health Department. Even as the number of patients needing the drugs has continued to rise, the state has faced flat funding from the federal government. According to PHD Director Joyce Naseyowma-Chalan, 63 percent of the division's HIV money comes from the federal government.
In part because patients lobbied for funds, New Mexico has had one of the nation's model HIV programs. But as improved drugs have kept patients alive longer, urgency about the matter has receded, said patient advocate Dana Rice.
POZ Coalition has worked with Sen. Phil Griego (D-San Jose) to propose the Billy Griego Act to next year's Legislature. Named for the senator's brother who died of AIDS complications in 1987, the act would take HIV money from the general fund and put it in a designated pool. Gov. Bill Richardson has not reviewed the proposed legislation, said Jessica Sutin, his health-policy adviser.
"I'm not saying we shouldn't cut anything, but we can't let anybody get sicker and die without spending money to help them," said Sen. Joe Carraro (R-Albuquerque), a member of the Legislative Finance Committee.