December 8, 2009
California faces another budget shortfall next fiscal year, and AIDS advocates are working to protect the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program. ADAP's fiscal gap could be up to $100 million next year, Dana Van Gorder, executive director of Project Inform, told about 80 people at a rally outside San Francisco City Hall ahead of World AIDS Day.
Were ADAP to lower the income cap for eligibility to $20,600 as a way to cut costs, the program would shed 8,500 patients -- a quarter of its enrollment, said Van Gorder.
The state health department did not confirm ADAP data by press time. However, the Legislature's Analyst's Office anticipates "a General Fund budget problem of $20.7 billion" for 2010-11. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will release his proposed budget on January 10, Van Gorder said. Advocates are trying to persuade the governor to cover the anticipated $100 million ADAP gap. ADAP's budget this year is $415 million.
This year, California will use $255 million of ADAP's reserve fund, "virtually all of it," Van Gorder said. The fund has been so depleted that the only way to maintain ADAP next year, he said, is for the state to tap its general funds or secure more assistance from the federal government or pharmaceutical companies.
"We will be working on trying to accomplish all three of those things," Van Gorder said.
Schwarzenegger has not yet made final or preliminary ADAP funding-level decisions, said H.D. Palmer, deputy director of the state Department of Finance. "We're in the process of finalizing our economic and revenue forecasts, which will determine the size of the budget gap that we have to close, and we will be sitting down with the governor over the next several weeks to make those decisions."