IN THE LOOP
The news you need to know this week
Welcome to the latest edition of our update on the news you need to know and how it affects you and the communities we serve. Every couple of weeks we send out an e-mail featuring important updates, and you can sign up below! As always, thank you for your support of APLA Health, and please share this with others who may be interested.
Despite Public Health Crisis, California Budget Includes Limited Investments in HIV, Hepatitis C, and STDs
In June, Governor Newsom signed his first state budget after months of negotiations with the legislature. Here’s everything you need to know about how California is investing in programs and services to end the HIV, hepatitis C, and STD epidemics.
Insufficient Funding for HIV, Hepatitis C, and STD Prevention
The budget includes $5 million annually for HIV prevention, $5 million annually for STD prevention and treatment, and $5 million annually for hepatitis C testing and linkage to care. While this new funding is an improvement over previous years, the investment falls far short of the $60 million requested by community stakeholders and could expire in 2021 unless state revenues exceed expenditures. Significantly more resources will be needed to adequately address the magnitude of California’s HIV, hepatitis C, and STD epidemics.
No Funding for Statewide End the Epidemics Strategy
The budget does not include funding to develop a coordinated statewide strategy to end the HIV, hepatitis C, and STD epidemics—a key priority of public health and community leaders given recent advances in prevention and treatment. Governor Newsom committed to launching a statewide initiative to end the HIV and hepatitis C epidemics during his campaign. Earlier this year, more than 150 organizations released a community consensus statement calling on the administration to fulfill that commitment and address California’s skyrocketing STD rates as part of the initiative.
Care Navigators for Harm Reduction Programs
The budget includes $15.2 million over four years to fund staff positions in harm reduction programs across the state. These staff positions—harm reduction care navigators—will connect people who use drugs with life-saving services including syringe access, overdose prevention, drug treatment, and healthcare coverage.
Medi-Cal Expansion for Young Adults Regardless of Immigration Status
The budget includes new funding to expand full-scope Medi-Cal to young adults up to 26 years old regardless of immigration status. Medi-Cal provides free or low cost health coverage for state residents with limited incomes. Coupled with last year’s expansion of full-scope Medi-Cal to undocumented children up to 18 years old, California is leading the nation in ensuring access to health care coverage for all residents regardless of immigration status. Coverage is expected to begin January 1, 2020.
Increased Affordability Assistance for Covered California
The budget includes new funding to increase financial assistance for individuals enrolled in Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace. The budget will provide additional premium assistance to individuals between 200 and 600 percent of the federal poverty level ($24,200-$72,800/year for an individual) and individuals below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (around $17,200/year for an individual). This new financial assistance will be funded, in part, by reinstating the individual mandate that requires individuals to obtain comprehensive health care coverage or pay a penalty.
APLA Health is pleased that this year’s budget includes new funding to address the state’s alarming rates of HIV, hepatitis C, and STDs—but it is not nearly enough. California must commit to a meaningful and robustly funded action plan if we are to succeed in ending these epidemics. Sign our petition urging elected officials to develop a statewide End the Epidemics strategy!
More details about the approved budget can be found here.
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We will send you regular updates on issues and policies affecting the LGBT and/or HIV communities and urge you to call or e-mail your representatives about key political activity at the local, state, and federal levels.