Atlanta AIDS Organizations Brace for Funding Cuts
August 31, 2007
The federal Human Resources and Services Administration is proposing cuts to the Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) budget of Ryan White CARE Act funding, say Georgia AIDS advocates. Coupled with efforts to reclaim federal money allegedly overpaid to Georgia, the potential cuts could result in Atlanta losing nearly $1.7 million for the 2008 and 2009 budgets.
"We've not experienced this sort of loss in funding before," said Jeff Graham, Chair of the Public Policy Committee of the Metropolitan Atlanta HIV Health Services Planning Council. The council oversees distribution of Ryan White funds for the 22 counties that make up the Atlanta Eligible Metropolitan Area (EMA).
Graham said the proposed cuts to the MAI would force the local council to remove $740,000 from drug reimbursement funds to local AIDS service organizations. He estimates 430 people would lose or have reduced access to mental health services following the council's projected $190,000 cut to that service budget. A projected reduction of $135,000 in dental health funds would result in some 450 fewer available appointments for HIV-positive patients.
Graham and other activists plan to lobby Congress, which begins voting on budget appropriations in September. "Now is the time when people need to contact their members of Congress before they vote," he said.
Approximately 38,000 Georgians have HIV/AIDS; about 26,600 live within the Atlanta EMA.
Tracy Elliott, Executive Director of AID Atlanta, said his agency will look closer at private philanthropy to make up for proposed budget cuts. He noted that proposed MAI cuts would likely cut case management funds, with an adverse effect on client services.
Melanie Sovine, Executive Director of the AIDS Survival Project, said the federal government has never fully funded HIV social and medical services since creating the Ryan White CARE Act in 1990. Therefore, AIDS service organizations should be prepared for uncertain financial times.
Southern Voice (Atlanta)
08.31.2007; Zach Hudson
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.