AIDS ACTION COMMITTEE OF MA
April 12, 2012
The Massachusetts House Ways & Means Committee has released its budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2013, which begins July 1. The committee recommended $31.6 million for programs that serve people living with HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis and those at risk of contracting these infectious diseases.
This represents a $500,000 cut as compared to FY12 funding and the Governor’s proposed FY13 funding level.
We need you to fill out this contact form so we can deliver the message below to your state representative, or contact his/her office directly. The deadline for lawmakers to sign on to amendments is Friday, April 13 at 3pm!
Please co-sponsor Rep. Sciortino's budget amendment to fund HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis prevention and care.
If you choose to contact your representative, please use the following talking points:
- If these cuts are implemented, it will devastate prevention and treatment support services for people living with HIV/AIDS.
- These cuts will also devastate prevention and screening efforts to curb the spread of viral hepatitis.
- Increased funding is also needed to expand quality, regional case management services for people infected with hepatitis C and improve surveillance of viral hepatitis to better assess state needs.
- The number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts increased 42% from 1999 to 2008.
- Currently, there are an estimated 100,000 people living with viral hepatitis In Massachusetts, with between 7,000-10,000 new diagnoses annually - and 1,000 of these new diagnoses are among teens and young adults.
- Approximately 14% of those infected with HIV are also infected with hepatitis C, which greatly complicates and increases the costs of treatment for both diseases.
- Between 2000 and 2010, Massachusetts reduced new HIV diagnoses by 54% resulting in health care cost savings of over $2 BILLION.
- Nationally, total annual medical costs for persons with Hepatitis C infection are projected to more than double over the next 20 years, from $30 billion to $85 billion.
If you use the contact form linked above, you would be included in the following letter:
Dear [Decision Maker],
I am writing to urge you to contact Representative Carl Sciortino and co-sponsor his budget amendment, which would provide $33.35 million in funding for programs that serve people living with HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis in Massachusetts (line item # 4512-0103).
The deadline to contact Representative Sciortino's office and sign onto this budget amendment is Friday, April 13th at 3 pm.
This amendment represents an increase of $1.25 million for HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis as compared to FY12 and an increase of $1.75 million as compared to the House Ways & Means FY13 proposed funding level for this line item.
Please also contact House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey and let him know that you support Representative Sciortino's HIV/AIDS/Viral hepatitis budget amendment.
The House Ways & Means budget currently funds HIV/AIDS programs at $31.6 million a $500,000 cut as compared with last year's HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis funding. If these cuts are implemented, it will mark the fourth year in a row that funding has been cut for HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis, which will have a devastating impact on prevention and screening programs as well as programs that coordinate care for people with HIV and viral hepatitis --which directly impacts their ability to stay healthy.
Over the last several years, funding for HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis has been cut by more than $5 million. These cuts have resulted in the elimination across the state of many prevention and screening programs for people at risk for both HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis as well as residential support services and case management for persons living with HIV/AIDS.
Although the state currently funds some limited prevention, screening and medical case management services for people living with and at risk for Hepatitis C, more is needed if we are to effectively address this "silent epidemic." Increased funding for viral hepatitis will make it possible for the Department of Public Health to preserve critical counseling and testing services. Additional funding could also be used to expand quality, regional case management services for people infected with viral hepatitis; and improve surveillance of viral hepatitis to better assess state needs.
It is estimated that without the programs we had in place since 1999, there would have been more than 5,600 additional cases of HIV in Massachusetts. Preventing these infections has not only reduced the pain and suffering of those who might have become infected, but will also result in more than $2 billion in health care cost savings. Nationally, total annual medical costs for persons with Hepatitis C infection are projected to more than double over the next 20 years, from $30 billion to $85 billion.
Failure to sustain the investments of the past 10 years risks the successes we have achieved. In the last year alone, the state has seen more than 600 new diagnoses of HIV and 7,000-10,000 new diagnoses of hepatitis C. And the rate of viral hepatitis doubled among teens and young adults, who are also incredibly vulnerable to HIV infection, between 2002 and 2009. Approximately 14 percent of those infected with HIV are also infected with Hepatitis C, which greatly complicates and increases the costs of treatment for both diseases.
Again, please contact Representative Sciortino's office by 3pm on Friday, April 13th to co-sponsor his budget amendment providing $33.35 million in funding for HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis (line item 4512-0103). And please also tell Chairman Dempsey to sustain our investment in HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programming and save BILLIONS of dollars in health care costs.
[City, State ZIP]
Original article here.
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