New York City Panel Says Health Cutbacks Fall Hardest on Minorities
March 19, 2003
Testifying before the New York City Council's Health Committee yesterday, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden painted a grim picture of a department caught between state budget cutbacks and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's demand that agencies help close the city's widening budget gap. Committee members said the proposals would disproportionately hurt minority groups with high rates of HIV infection and other health problems. Frieden predicted layoffs and health clinic closings.
State cuts alone would essentially reduce spending by roughly $50 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Giving examples of the cuts needed, Frieden warned that the city's free flu vaccination program would be eliminated, day care inspections would be reduced, fewer HIV tests would be performed, and dozens of HIV/AIDS prevention groups would be forced to seek financing elsewhere.
The committee's chair, Councilmember Christine Quinn (Manhattan), was angered when Frieden explained that $5 million in HIV/AIDS assistance requested by the council would not be available. She insisted the money had been cut, perhaps by Bloomberg, but Frieden said it was never officially included in the department's baseline budget.
Frieden drew more criticism as he outlined his plan to cut $600,000 in rat control in vacant lots in poor neighborhoods, as well as $300,000 from infant mortality prevention programs. Frieden insisted his hands are tied: "I would respectfully ask the council to tell me where you'd like me to cut. ... Should I stop issuing birth and death certificates? Should I not investigate severe acute respiratory syndrome? Should I close a TB clinic somewhere? Should I stop treating STDs? Should I stop doing HIV prevention? I'm all ears."
New York Times
03.19.03; Nichole M. Christian
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.