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GMHC calls New
York budget a mixed bag for HIVers

GMHC calls New
York budget a mixed bag for HIVers

Gay Men's Health Crisis, the nation's oldest AIDS service organization, has both praise and criticism for New York governor George Pataki's final executive budget proposal. The agency applauds the inclusion of an across-the-board "cost of living" funding increase of AIDS service providers but is worried that a proposed $1.3 billion in cuts to the state's Medicaid program will hurt low-income HIVers who rely on Medicaid for medical care.

"The HIV/AIDS epidemic has not been static during the governor's time in office," says Ronald Johnson, GMHC associate executive director, in a press statement. "The number of people living with HIV/AIDS is the highest it has been throughout the epidemic, a fact reflected in the growing caseloads of service providers throughout the state. We appreciate the much-needed inclusion of HIV/AIDS funding in his executive budget proposal."

But Johnson says the proposed cuts to Medicaid and the state's Family Health Plus program could "leave many New Yorkers out in the cold." Medicaid is the state's largest provider of health care for HIV-positive New Yorkers, serving about 65,000 state residents. Cuts to Family Health Plus could result in up to sevenfold increases in copayments for medical services, particularly emergency room visits. Providers also would be allowed to deny services to patients unable to afford the copays under Pataki's proposal.

"Seventy percent of the more than 15,000 clients that walk through GMHC's doors each year rely on Medicaid for preventative, primary, and hospital care as well as for lifesaving prescription drugs. We find it especially troubling that access to prescription drugs would be severely restricted and in some cases denied," Johnson says. (

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