New York City: AIDS Service Cuts Decried
March 12, 2010
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's budget proposal includes eliminating 248 of the 850 case managers at the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA), a suggestion that could set the stage for a showdown with AIDS groups. HASA case managers enroll AIDS patients in food stamp, Medicaid, housing, and other programs.
The cut would save $4.2 million and is just one of many measures proposed to help close a $4.9 billion deficit in New York City's $64 billion budget. Fiscal 2011 begins on July 1.
A potential complication is a 2001 federal court order enforcing a 1997 City Council law that declared the HASA case manager-to-client ratio cannot be more than 1:34.
"If [Bloomberg] cuts hundreds of case managers, people will not get their food stamps, their Medicaid, their housing, they will suffer, and they will die," Armen H. Merjian, senior staff attorney at Housing Works, said during a March 8 protest at City Hall. That day, City Council was told the 1:34 ratio should include case managers at private agencies.
"It was our feeling that the caseload ratio should take into account all of the services that are available to those clients," Robert Doar, commissioner for the Human Resources Administration (HRA) that oversees HASA, told council members. That formula would work out to 1:29-33, he said in response to councilors' questions.
"I don't share your level of optimism," said Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represents East Harlem and part of the Bronx. "My concern is that it seems to me HASA is taking a disproportionate hit," said Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Astoria, Long Island City, and other Queens neighborhoods.
"It will be a combination of attrition and redeployment within HRA," HRA Deputy Commissioner Matthew Brune said after the hearing. "It's a long-term implementation. It will not happen all on July 1."
Of the half dozen council members who queried Doar, none expressed support for the cut.
Gay City News (New York City)
03.10.2010; Duncan Osborne
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.
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