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Budgets equal lives- CalADAP on the ropes

HIV/AIDS service-providers, recipients, and advocates will likely find a big lump of coal in their stockings this holiday season. That’s because according to budget projections, California’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (CalADAP) has a target on its back this upcoming fiscal year in anticipation of the Governor’s budget unveiling on January 10, 2010.

CalADAP provides around 200 anti-retroviral and related prescription drugs to 35,000 low-income, under and uninsured people living with HIV/AIDS in California, with its service demand expected to spike in excess of 40,000 people in 2010. Well-respected nationally as one of the most responsive programs of its kind, CalADAP faces major reductions in FY2010-11 due to a rapid depletion of state General Fund and CalADAP Special Fund monies.
CalADAP avoided deep service cuts earlier this year by the skin of its teeth.

But depressed revenues and misplaced priorities are coming home to roost, threatening the very lives of tens of thousands of Californians and the sustainability of our public safety net.

The organizer in me can’t help but ask, “What worked and what could we have done differently in the last go-around of budget discussions?” Not unlike the recent findings around marriage equality research, personal stories about how these cuts adversely impact lives were the proven “Teflon” that saved the CalADAP program last year. We must demand a public and transparent process once again, using the Assembly and Senate hearing process as an opportunity to humanize these cuts. Negotiations must not transpire behind closed doors; the stakes are far too high.

At the end of the day, the bludgeon of an $82 million cut to the state’s Office of AIDS fell on deaf and complacent ears within our own community. Our public response was simply not proportionate with the gravity of those cuts. What could we have done “differently” or “better?”

We could have risen up and reacted.

With a serious budget shortfall ahead of us, the Governor’s budget will likely include the deepening of General fund reductions to CalADAP, atop the current implementation of $82 million in reductions to other vital HIV/AIDS services. CalADAP’s Special Fund’s balance is insufficient to maintain the same level of service as last year, leaving General Fund CalADAP restoration as the only remaining alternative amid Sacramento’s aversion to raising new revenue.

Lawmakers like state Senator Christine Kehoe are working around the clock to restore General fund CalADAP funding, but she needs our help to do it. If we are serious about saving the CalADAP program, and preserving the lives of many of our closest friends and community members, then we must pressure our lawmakers, keep informed, and support legislative champions like Senator Kehoe with the resources and groundswell they will so desperately need as they maneuver through the next budget cycle.

Click here to find out how to contact your legislators today. Let them know CalADAP must be saved.