The California senate budget committee on Monday held a hearing on a proposal to cap enrollment in the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program as part of cost-cutting measures to reduce the state budget deficit. The plan, proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, would cap enrollment in the program at its current 23,900 enrollees. AIDS experts estimate that if the enrollment cap is approved, as many as 1,400 people will end up on a waiting list for the program and its lifesaving medications by the end of 2005. AIDS activists demonstrating in Sacramento on Monday say the enrollment cap could threaten the lives of low-income HIV-positive people who need antiretroviral medications.
"The ADAP is a matter of life or death for people living with HIV/AIDS," Craig Thompson, executive director of AIDS Project Los Angeles, said in a statement.
Schwarzenegger also proposed cutting funding for all state HIV prevention and treatment programs by 2% in fiscal 2004-2005 to help reduce the budget deficit. It's unclear whether Schwarzenegger's ADAP and HIV funding proposals have enough support in the Democrat-controlled legislature to pass. Some activists are lobbying state lawmakers to boost ADAP spending by an additional $25 million in fiscal 2004-2005 to avoid waiting lists and to maintain the current list of available drugs through the program.