echelon

AIDS Project Los Angeles Lauds Proposal for Full Funding of State's AIDS Drug Assistance Programs

January 8, 2010

Los Angeles, Calif., January 8, 2010 -- AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) today praised Governor Schwarzenegger's decision to meet rising demand for the state's life-saving AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) with an $87.5 million general funds increase, despite California's ongoing budget crisis.

"Keeping ADAP whole is courageous in this budget environment -- but it's also smart, cost-effective public health spending," said APLA Executive Director Craig E. Thompson, in response to the governor's proposed 2010 budget. "People with HIV/AIDS who rely on this program must have access to these drug therapies. Without treatment, they will get sick, or worse, and end up costing the state much more for catastrophic health care."

ADAP provides HIV/AIDS drugs to over 35,000 low-income uninsured or underinsured Californians each year. Demand for ADAP is expected to increase in the coming year, in part as a result of the national economic downturn. The $414 million program is funded by state general funds, $90 million in federal money and over $250 million in drug rebates the state earns from pharmaceutical companies.

Los Angeles County accounts for 40 percent of ADAP program expenditures.

With budget cuts that attempt to cover a $21 billion deficit, the governor's proposed budget makes only one cut to the ADAP program -- a reduction of $9.5 million in AIDS drugs for county jails.

"This cut will put pressure on county jails to meet their legal obligation to provide inmates with the care and AIDS drug therapies they need," Thompson said. "We will continue to monitor the situation in the jails to make sure inmates with HIV receive appropriate treatment."

Thompson also expressed concern for the breadth and depth of cuts proposed to other vital public health programs, including Medi-Cal, CalWORKS, Healthy Families and Social Security Supplemental payments.

"ADAP is vital to the population we serve," he said, "but so are Medi-Cal and other safety net programs. The state must find new revenues to sustain programs that provide income, assistance and healthcare to the state's most vulnerable people."

"ADAP is now in the hands of the legislature," Thompson continued. "The Assembly and Senate need to make sure this program remains fully funded when they deliver a final budget to the governor this spring."

Last year, the governor demanded more reserve funds than the Assembly's budget delivered, and at the end of the budget process vetoed some $550 million in proposed spending, including $85 million in HIV/AIDS funding. State spending for HIV prevention programs was completely eliminated.

Sacramento should restore those cuts as soon as fiscally possible," Thompson said. "While ADAP saves lives and money, HIV/AIDS prevention remains the best way to reduce the cost of fighting this epidemic."

The estimated lifetime cost of care for an individual infected with HIV is $600,000.

"We must prevent only 40 infections statewide for our prevention investment to pay for itself," Thompson added.

AIDS Project Los Angeles, one of the largest non-profit AIDS service organizations in the United States , provides bilingual direct services, prevention education and leadership on HIV/AIDS-related policy and legislation. With more than 25 years of service, APLA is a community-based, volunteer-supported organization with local, national and global reach. For more information, visit apla.org.