April 7, 2010
On Tuesday, Utah Republicans on the Executive Appropriations Committee deferred approval of the $5.2 million Ryan White grant until next month. The funds help provide health insurance and medicine to 450 low-income residents living with HIV/AIDS.
The AIDS Drug Assistance Program was one of dozens reviewed by the committee under a routine monthly approval process for federal grant applications. ADAP, which requires a $1.4 million investment by the state, was singled out by Senate President Michael Waddoups (R-Taylorsville), who questioned whether consumer protections under the new federal health care act passed last month would render ADAP unnecessary.
"It looks to me like we're funding a program providing insurance and [medical care] that is going to be covered under 'Obamacare:' pre-existing conditions, lifestyle choices, and things of that nature. I'm just concerned about that," said Waddoups.
ADAP is already underfunded and no longer accepts new enrollees, committee Democrats noted in their objection to the delay. Rep. David Litvack (D-Salt Lake City) pleaded with the committee to "err on the side of caution" and continue to support ADAP. "I guess I'm struggling to understand why the focus on this program and this group of people," said Rep. Carol Spackman Moss (D-Holladay).
State Health Director David Sundwall said he welcomed the opportunity to explain the program's merits to lawmakers. He promised there will be no lapses in ADAP services, even if it means tapping other budget areas to keep the program running.