A 2004-2005 budget proposal unveiled by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger would cap enrollment for the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program and cut AIDS spending by about 2%, The San Jose Mercury News reports. The state's ADAP needs about $45 million for fiscal 2004-2005 to cover increased enrollment and increased drug costs for current enrollees. But Schwarzenegger's budget not only includes no funding increases at all, it also proposes to cap the program's enrollment at its current membership, 23,900. AIDS groups say the enrollment cap could force up to 1,400 people onto a waiting list by the end of the fiscal year.
AIDS advocates promptly criticized the governor's proposed budget. "The state's fiscal crisis may require sacrifices all around, but limiting access to ADAP could cost people with HIV/AIDS their health and, ultimately, their lives," said AIDS Project Los Angeles executive director Craig Thompson. "It is simply not cost-effective in the short or long term to cap enrollment in this program." Ellen LaPointe, executive director of San Francisco-based Project Inform, called Schwarzenegger's budget "shortsighted." "The governor knows that to truly serve low-income Californians with HIV, he needs to increase ADAP funding by approximately $45 million in this budget," she said. "It is disappointing that the governor has not only chosen to ignore this but has gone further to propose additional cuts."