New Mexico Gov. Richardson Orders Shift of $2.6 Million in State Funding to Restore HIV/AIDS Services
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) on Friday ordered $2.6 million to be shifted to the state's HIV/AIDS programs in an effort to restore some services that were cut because of statewide budget shortfalls, the Albuquerque Journal reports (Jadrnak, Albuquerque Journal, 7/3). The state's HIV/AIDS program is facing an estimated $1.6 million deficit for the current fiscal year and a $2.8 million shortfall for the next fiscal year. Last month, Richardson announced that his office would give $250,000 in federal fiscal-relief funds to the state's HIV/AIDS program to help curb cuts to direct services and to serve as a stopgap for the health department to secure other funding to maintain the program's services (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/8). However, under contracts with HIV/AIDS service organizations that took effect on Thursday -- the start of the new fiscal year -- the state stopped covering some services, including dental care, mental health and substance abuse counseling, client transportation and food banks. According to the Journal, it is unclear where the state will find the $2.6 million that Richardson has ordered restored, but James Jiminez, secretary of the state Department of Finance and Administration, said most of the money could be found in cash balances available in the state Department of Health's budget. The funding, if it comes from cash reserves, would be a stopgap measure and would not be available in future fiscal years, according to the Journal (Albuquerque Journal, 7/3). Richardson said that his promise to restore the funding "is not smoke and mirrors. ... We're going to do it." State Health Secretary Patricia Montoya said, "We're very confident we will find" the money, adding that the health department will examine the possibility of cutting administrative, overtime and contract costs. However, Montoya added that there still could be cost-cutting measures that will change the state's "one-stop-shopping" model for HIV/AIDS care, the Associated Press reports (Baker, Associated Press, 7/3).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.