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State's AIDS program pays for 1995 budget problem

March 05, 1996
By: Angie Gaddy
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The state's AIDS program is ailing. Recommended dosage?

It all depends on the doctor. Both Gov. Mel Carnahan and Health Department prescribed no state funds, but legislators Tuesday had a second opinion: $600,000 of state funds earmarked for medication.

"When there's a 35 percent decrease in federal funds, we thought it necessary," said Health Appropriations Committee Chairman Paula Carter, D-St. Louis.

Carter said the committee put the funds on a separate line for tracking.

"We want to watch it," she said.

After the Health Department over spent its 1995-1996 budget of $2.2 million by $1.6 million more, Carnahan refused to recommend any state funding for the Ryan White CARE program, which provides service for people with AIDS.

"We think our funding levels are appropriate," Carnahan spokesman Chris Sifford said. Carnahan will still need to review the measure, but the governor will support the additional funds, Sifford said.

The health department decided last September it would solve its financial woes by reallocating its funds, freeze all hiring and stop outside travel expenses. The only outside money would come from federal funds.

"We don't know exactly how much yet," Health Department spokeswoman Nanci Gonder said of the amount of federal funding to be received. Gonder said the department will know in April after Congress decides how much to allocate. But the department still faces budget cuts and a rising number of AIDS cases.

Its only solution?

"We're going to ratchet down the programs," said Health Department Director Colleen Kivlahan.

She said all specific disease programs would be affected.

"There is no money to fund an over commitment in any project" because of last year's financial problems, Kivlahan warned Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday.

When funds run low, she said those needing state assistance will be taken on a first-come, first-serve basis. Then those receiving assistance will need be narrowed down by financial need.