New York City council members on Tuesday held a tense meeting with state health commissioner Thomas Frieden over $5 million in proposed cuts in state health grants to the city that the council members say will disproportionately affect minorities, including those with HIV/AIDS, The New York Times reports. Frieden said to members of the council's health committee that state budget cuts will likely lead to closures of public health clinics and will result in cuts to many New York City programs, including those that provide HIV testing and referrals. When questioned by a visibly angered councilwoman Christine Quinn about the impact of the budget cuts, Frieden responded that they are necessary to close a state budget gap and said that his hands are tied.
"I would respectfully ask the council to tell me where you'd like me to cut," he said. "Should I stop issuing birth and death certificates? Should I not investigate severe acute respiratory syndrome? Should I close a TB clinic somewhere? Should I stop treating STDs? Should I stop doing HIV prevention? I'm all ears." The council health committee plans to hold meetings this month and next to discuss its health budget for the coming fiscal year.