Colorado Democrats Say Budget Cuts to State Health Department Threatens Federal Funding for HIV/AIDS Treatment Programs
In an effort to balance Colorado's $700 million budget shortfall, state lawmakers have cut funding to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, in a move that Democrats say will decrease federal funding to the state's HIV/AIDS treatment programs, the Denver Rocky Mountain News reports. Colorado's $8 million-a-year AIDS Drug Assistance Program -- which provides low-income Coloradoans access to prescription drugs at greatly reduced prices -- receives most of its funding from the federal government through the Ryan White CARE Act. "Unless we craft specific priorities and apply them within the departments, we are going to see this over and over again. In lieu of leadership, we have become witness to slash-and-burn tactics that just make matters worse," House Minority Leader-elect Jennifer Veiga (D) said. However, health department officials said the cuts will not cause federal funds for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program "to dry up," because the department will "use dollars from elsewhere to protect the federal money," the Rocky Mountain News reports. "Is there somebody out there that is going to go without services [because of the reduction]? The answer is no," Doug Benevento, acting director of the health department, said. The issue is "likely to be resolved" today when health department officials present their proposed budget to the state Legislature's joint budget committee (Ames, Denver Rocky Mountain News, 12/18).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.