California: AIDS Advocates Worry About Cuts to Medi-Cal
January 16, 2009
AIDS advocates are concerned that proposed cuts in Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, could hurt some AIDS patients' access to care.
"These Medi-Cal reductions will likely lead to poorer health outcomes for the most vulnerable people living with HIV," said Mark Cloutier, CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. SFAF said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget seeks to close a projected $41.6 billion budget shortfall through the end of the next fiscal year by raising $14.3 billion in new revenue, reducing spending by $17.4 billion over 18 months, and borrowing money.
Medi-Cal's 2008-09 budget is $38.5 billion, of which $14.4 billion comes from state funds. Included in the state budget is a $1.1 billion cut to Medi-Cal over the next 18 months. The state stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in matching federal funds under the proposed budget.
HIV-positive people who have not progressed to an AIDS diagnosis are ineligible for Medi-Cal. People with AIDS can be found in any of Medi-Cal's several programs, said Tony Cava, spokesperson for the state Department of Health Care Service.
In 2001, the program for the aged, blind, and disabled was expanded when its income limit was increased from 69 percent of the poverty level to 127 percent, adjusted for inflation. The new proposal would scale back this expansion to the income levels for Supplemental Security Incomes and State Supplemental Payments. The income cutoff limit for SSI and SSP payments is $870 a month, Cava said. This would mean that as of May 1, 73,000 people would no longer be eligible for Medi-Cal, he said.
Schwarzenegger's budget fully funds the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which will serve some 35,000 Californians in the next fiscal year at a cost of $418 million.
Bay Area Reporter
01.15.2009; Seth Hemmelgarn
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.