The waiting lists numbers keep coming down – a little. The federal government released $1.8 billion to support federal-state HIV partnerships, with $813 million earmarked specifically for ADAP programs with waiting lists.
The release of funds is slow, though, and the four states that account for almost the entire waiting list – Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and Louisiana – aren’t stepping up to the plate to match the additional federal money.
The waiting list states say they can’t afford it. We visited Florida’s ADAP debate in the October 24 Positive Voice. Let’s turn in this issue to Georgia.
Georgia Public Broadcasting reports the state’s waiting list numbers have fallen by about 300, from roughly 1,700 to 1,400, with $3 million in new federal funds. Eliminating the waiting list altogether, state officials say, would cost $15 million the state doesn’t have.
Time for a reality check….
Georgia’s proposed 2012 budget is $20 billion. The $15 million that would eliminate the waiting list amounts to 0.075% – less than one-tenth of one percent – of that budget. Even in a period of state financial stress, with an expected five percent deficit, the needed $15 million is so minuscule that spending it or not spending it to end the waiting list has no material impact on the state’s budget crisis. But Georgia’s political conversation continues to be dominated by proposals to lower higher-income and corporate tax rates and “pay” for the cuts by cutting services and shifting tax burdens to middle and lower-income Georgians.
Georgia’s $15 million we can’t is really a $15 million we don’t want to. And the future cost of this year’s $15 million we don’t want to will be a lot more than $15 million.
Here are the latest waiting list numbers from our friends at NASTAD: