August 15, 2008
PROTEST AGAINST AIDS BUDGET CUTS TODAY AT 2PM!
as Paterson threatens Medicaid
We'll see you here at 2pm!
It's been one piece of bad news after another lately. In late June (on LGBT Pride Day no less), New York City announced a budget deal that decimated HIV/AIDS services by $6 million. Last week, State Medicaid Director Deborah Bachrach made it clear that she wants to force poor New Yorkers with HIV on Medicaid into managed care. This week, Gov. David Paterson announced he wanted to cut another $1 billion from an already trimmed State budget and that $506 million of those cuts would come from Medicaid spending.
Galvanized and angered by the CDC's recent report that 40 percent more Americans get HIV year every year than previously estimated, New York City and State AIDS groups are ready to push back.
The AIDS Budget Action Coalition is organizing hundreds of people living with HIV/AIDS, their supporters, and representatives of dozens of New York City AIDS service organizations for a rally outside of Paterson's New York City office today. Housing Works, GMHC, Positive Health Project, Bronx Pride, Bronx AIDS Services, Harlem United, New York AIDS Coalition, Harm Reduction Center, Hispanic AIDS Forum and dozens of other groups will be in attendance.
“Many legislators may not be afraid to make these cuts because of who they affect: poor people, people of color, drug users and other at-risk groups. This rally and other actions will show them that we hold them accountable,” said Housing Works President and CEO Charles King.
Protest location: Gov. Paterson's New York City office at 633 Third Avenue between 40th and 41st St.
Protest time: Today, August 15, 2008 from 2pm to 3:30pm...
New York State tried an end run around Melendez v Wing. Housing Works read the play.
Last Thursday, Housing Works filed a lawsuit on behalf of Zoraida Melendez, charging that the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA), the Human Resources Administration (HRA) and the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTD) retaliated against her when it reduced her monthly rental assistance last May from $1,350 to $810. The reduction in Melendez's housing benefits would have resulted in her family's eviction from their home.
When Housing Works filed the lawsuit on Thursday, it also obtained a temporary restraining order on the city's marshal, staving off the eviction of the Melendez family.
Melendez's lawyer, Housing Works staff attorney Matthew Carmody, believes that the city and state government agencies are retaliating against Melendez because of her role as lead plaintiff in Melendez v. Wing. Melendez's victory in that case, which went all the way to the State's highest court, established the right of all HASA clients to exclude family members with SSI income from their household budget calculation. SSI invisibility, as the exclusion is known, saves families over $500 each month, money that can go to the care and support of their disabled family members. Melendez v. Wing was relied on heavily by the Appellate Division in Doe v. Doar, a sister case that restored SSI invisibility budgeting to all eligible public assistance recipients in New York State. Doe v. Doar cost New York State tens of millions of dollars in retroactive benefits...
Holes: Great for cheese, bad for studies that affect Medicaid policy
Editorial by Ginny Shubert
Earlier this month, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) issued a press release innocently titled "Comparison of Fee-for-Service, Mainstream Managed Care and HIV Special Needs Plans (SNPs) Shows Better Quality in Managed Care." The comparison study is, in fact, the State's key piece of evidence in justifying a cost-saving move to force tens of thousands of Medicaid recipients living with HIV/AIDS into HMO plans.
The Department of Health should be applauded for attempting an evidence-based approach to health policy decisions. There is nothing more important to the lives of New Yorkers living with HIV than the delivery of health care. Any change to HIV health care delivery systems can only be justified by clear, strong evidence that the change will result in improved access, continuity, and quality of care.
The DOH's study comparing three health care systems for people with HIV/AIDS on Medicaid—Special Needs Plans (SNPs), fee-for-service care and mainstream managed care (HMOs)—may be a beginning in our understanding of how existing health care systems are working, but the reported results simply do not support policy change. As the DOH acknowledges, in order to save money and get quick results, the study was limited to billing and encounter data, which tell us nothing about clinical outcomes, the true test of health care. Since only one year of administrative claims data were examined, the study period is too short to tell us anything meaningful about continuity of care. These major weakness aside, the preliminary results included in the press release raise more questions than they answer...
Li at Cylar House
With the world focused on China and the Olympics, the popular narrative in the Chinese media is that the government has made huge strides in addressing the AIDS epidemic. But Li Dan, a Chinese AIDS activist doing a summer fellowship at Housing Works, said the reality is more complex.
"The Chinese government wants to cover up the AIDS problem because they want to focus on economic development," Li said. "The AIDS situation may stay the same for a long time, because the Chinese government has very little influence to control the sex industry and combat the blood-selling problem."
The soft spoken Li, 30, who has often been at odds with the his government, is staying at Housing Works' Keith D. Cylar House as part of the Advocate Summer Haven Program run by Asia Catalyst. Asia Catalyst has placed six Chinese advocates in fellowships at AIDS groups in the U.S., Hong Kong and Malaysia. The timing isn't a coincidence. Chinese activists are wary of being in China during the Olympics, especially given the recent three and half year prison sentence handed out to prominent AIDS activist Hu Jia. Hu was detained last year for "inciting subversion of state power and the socialist system".
"There are a lot of international reporters in Beijing now and if we reported that the government is addressing AIDS, that would be fine. But if we reported how the AIDS situation actually was, of course the Chinese government wouldn't be happy," Li said...