June 21, 2007
Next month, federal Ryan White funding cuts to South Florida will restrict or close many HIV/AIDS patient care and service programs to thousands of clients, say local officials. A requirement that 75 percent of funds be spent on medical care jeopardizes complementary and support services, such as substance abuse treatment, food and financial assistance, transportation, case management, and nutritional counseling.
"We're talking about food here. But we don't have many choices," said David Begley, chairperson of the Palm Beach County HIV Care Council.
"The money keeps getting smaller but the number of patients keeps getting larger," said Kathleen Cannon, co-chairperson for Broward County's HIV Health Services Planning Council, which allocates the federal funds.
Since last year, Broward County's Ryan White allocation was cut from $15 million to $13.1 million, and Palm Beach County's grant was cut from $8.3 million to $7.7 million. Each county hopes to compete for additional funds awarded in August. But as more cities are vying for the money this year, the counties may receive only a few hundred thousand dollars more, officials said.
Broward County's planning council may cut off 75 people who make over three times the federal poverty level, a single person earning more than $30,630. The decision is expected June 28, said Cannon. Money for medicine and dental care was cut by $1.3 million.
A one-time state-county allocation made to soften a federal cut to Palm Beach County's Ryan White funds last year will not be repeated. Without that backfill in funding, food aid to clients will be cut by two-thirds, to $135,000, said Begley. Emergency financial assistance will be cut by $100,000, 40 percent, and case manager funds will drop by $1 million, one-third.