Phil Reese

HOLD THE PHONE: Chicago HIV/AIDS Budget Still Being Reviewed

Filed By Phil Reese | August 13, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Living
Tags: Budget, Chicago, damon arnold, Greg Harris, HIV/AIDS, idph, Illinois, illinois department of public health


Yesterday I posted that intense lobbying by advocates like Rep. Greg Harris, Sara Feigenholtz, Heather Steans and Mayor Daley, Governor Quinn (whose initial budget had included a 30%+ ax of AIDS funding) had used his discretionary funds to save the Illinois HIV/AIDS budget for the most part, and maintain funding at about 97% of what it had been.

Well, today, word has it that--while the across-the-board cuts are being minimized--for some reason the Chicago Health Department AIDS/HIV prevention budget is still under review. There is concern in the public health community and with Chicago area lawmakers like Rep. Greg Harris and his allies that funding may not be allocated "where science sees fit," referring to the new reports that new infection rates are exploding in Chicago, especially in communities of color.

Harris wonders: if 2/3 of the AIDS/HIV cases are in Chicago, "just what are they doing with the money?"

The Illinois Department of Public Health has neither confirmed or denied that this budget reallocation will occur (it's only just a review), but even the suggestion of such a move in a time of crisis is cause for alarm, and reason to contact decision-makers immediately before a hasty decision is made to "re-allocate [money] contrary to the epidemiological stats..."

Why the state would scramble to maintain funding, but "shortchange Chicago" is unclear, but the hint of such a move calls for some action.

Rep. Greg Harris, in conversation with me this morning, suggested that everyone with a phone or computer try to contact Dr. Damon Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health at 217-782-4977, and Governor Quinn at 217-782-6830 or 312-814-2121.

Encourage everyone you know in Illinois to get on the phone today and tell the governor to maintain funding in the most crucial areas. Even though AIDS prevention programs need boosts statewide, the increases in Chicago do have an effect on other areas of the state as well--many of the folks who live down here in Champaign are from Chicago and have ties. Do what you can to help us pull out all of the stops on this crisis!

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Thanks for keeping us up to date on this issue, Phil!

I'm not the one to thank. A little birdie contacted me with this. I thought everything was peachy!

Please contact the Governor, folks!!!

Got a call this morning from Rep. Harris. What was speculation yesterday is fact today. The IDPH IS deciding on whether or not to make disproportionate cuts to Chicago Public Health in order to maintain 100% at downstate facilities, and will make their decision by next week. Though I'm a downstater, and we desperately need more funding here, certainly, and while we receive FAR less funding than ANYTHING Chicago out here, and a small 3% cut could be devastating for a program that only receives a few thousand dollars, Rep. Harris makes a great point. Rate of infection is increasing exponentially in Chicago. We can not afford, in this time of crisis, to burden their health system with disproportionate cuts. Everyone needs to saddle the burden of these 3% cuts together, unified, in order to stave off this growing problem. CALL GOVERNOR QUINN AND DR ARNOLD TODAY, PLEASE!

john Peller | August 18, 2009 12:35 AM

Phil - thanks for posting this - thought you'd be interested in this post, which has more information on why the state's in this bind: