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Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner today proposed a $31.5 billion budget for the state’s next fiscal year that contains draconian cuts to the Illinois Department of Public Health and HIV services. The state’s last fiscal year saw $26 million appropriated for HIV-related services, but Rauner proposed slashing HIV services in FY 2016 to $20 million, a nearly 25% reduction.
“The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) strongly opposes these proposed cuts,” noted Ramon Gardenhire, AFC’s vice president of policy. “We will vigorously work with the General Assembly, people living with HIV, service providers and community members to restore funding for these and other vital programs.”
An estimated 43,500 Illinoisans are living with HIV. The proposed budget, if enacted, would severely limit the ability of this population to access vital medication and maintain the supportive services needed to keep their condition manageable.
The State’s main HIV funding line supports housing, prevention, supportive services and health care programs for people with HIV. This funding also supports the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which provides life-saving medication to people with HIV.
Governor Rauner indicated that state funding for HIV services could be cut because many AIDS Drug Assistance Program clients will transition to Affordable Care Act programs.
“Nearly 1,800 people are newly diagnosed with HIV each year in Illinois,” continued Gardenhire, “and nearly 19,000 people who know they have HIV failed to get medical care in 2013. Any savings from the Affordable Care Act must be reinvested in testing, prevention, and linkage and engagement in care to further impact the HIV epidemic.”
The Governor’s budget also proposes reducing funding for the African American HIV/AIDS Response Fund by 66% to $500,000. This program, which addresses HIV in communities of color where the epidemic is most severe, is a vital source of funding.
“The responsible solution to the state’s budget problem is to generate the revenue needed to put Illinois on a path to sustainable prosperity,” said John Peller, AFC’s president/CEO. “We know there are many options for the state to generate adequate revenue. To say that there is ‘no choice but to make cuts’ is cynical and false.”
AFC calls on Governor Rauner and the legislature to identify sources of tax funding to replace the 2011 temporary income tax increase, which expired January 1, 2015. The state must sustainably fund Medicaid and other services that improve the health and well-being of residents as well as the state’s economy.
“The reality is that we’ve already made significant cuts to these programs in the past,” said Daniel Frey, director of government relations at AFC. “They simply cannot sustain funding decreases on the level the governor is proposing. We look forward to identifying solutions to the state budget that include adequate revenue, not just cuts.”
AFC also particularly concerned with the impact that the governor’s budget will have on the state’s Medicaid program and those who rely on Medicaid to receive vital, lifesaving care and treatment, including tens of thousands of people with HIV. AFC encourages Governor Rauner and his entire administration to consider the long-term impact of such cuts, both to recipients of that care, but also on our state’s finances.
The Governor’s proposed FY 2016 budget would reduce Medicaid spending by $1.6 billion. Program cuts include reductions to hospital and nursing home programs. The governor would eliminate again adult dental and podiatry services, which were restored by state in 2015 after a two-year elimination that proved detrimental to the physical health of individuals on Medicaid.
“What’s at stake here is the safety and well-being of hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans who deserve to lead healthy, full lives,” said Peller.
The governor’s proposed budget also reduces Department of Human Services (DHS) state funding by some $400 million, cutting services such as substance abuse and mental health treatment. It appears that all state funding — $12.7 million — has been cut from supportive housing, which helps formerly homeless people with HIV and other chronic diseases and behavioral health challenges live successfully in the community.
“Governor Rauner’s budget is just a proposal,” said Frey. “It’s our job as advocates to work with our champions in the General Assembly, including members of the Black and Latino Caucuses, to restore vital services for people with HIV and other vulnerable populations. We look forward to that partnership.”