Georgia: State Budget Cuts Include HIV Program
September 3, 2003
Prompted by Gov. Sonny Perdue's call for each state agency to reduce its annual budget, the Georgia Department of Human Resources made a preliminary proposal to trim its HIV/AIDS program by about 10 percent. DHR Commissioner Jim Martin said the department needs to reduce its total budget in all programs by $140 million for 2004 and 2005, and the proposed 10 percent cut for HIV/AIDS funding would go into effect over the two-year period.Adapted from:
The "total fund base" for the HIV/AIDS program amounted to $22 million for 2003 and 2004, but $1 million will be reduced in FY 2004 and $1.5 million will be cut in FY 2005, said Ken Jones, planning and budget services director for DHR. The cumulative $2.5 million reduction will be taken from administrative funding for "primary health care and support services," according to the preliminary budget cuts released August 27.
Exactly what services will be cut remains unclear, said Jeff Graham, executive director of the advocacy group AIDS Survival Project. But the cuts could translate to financial difficulty for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, Graham said. "Georgia's ADAP program has gone from struggling to solid in the past four years and I think it would be a very sad message to the community if support were suddenly eroded," he said.
Currently, DHR reports no waiting list for HIV/AIDS patients needing drug therapy, and Martin said he stands by his commitment to the program despite budget reductions. The program could become more efficient by ensuring that people who obtain services from it do not have other means to receive HIV care, said Martin.
DHR's sweeping budget reductions were announced less than two months after a numerical listing of its 80 programs in order of importance was released. HIV/AIDS programs ranked 58, tying with a program for STD treatment and control. Jones maintains there is no direct correlation between the amount of money being cut from a program and its numerical ranking on the priority list.
Southern Voice (Atlanta)
08.29.03; Christopher Seely