State Senate Considers Cuts To HIV Treatment For Poor

AUSTIN (AP) – A Texas Senate subcommittee approved a proposal Thursday that would cut a program that supplies HIV drugs to 14,000 poor people, even after adding billions of dollars for health and human services.

Lawmakers voted to spend an additional $4.5 billion on state-supplied health services, but the HIV program was not a top priority. Where the state would find the additional funding was also not addressed.

Texas is facing a $24 billion budget shortfall to maintain current services.

The chair of the finance subcommittee, state Sen. Jane Nelson, told budget writers to put their priorities into three categories, with priority one being the most important.

“In light of our current fiscal constraints, what you have before you today are the recommendations to our full finance committee to add $4.5 billion of priority one items,” Nelson explained.

But when the HIV drug program showed up as a priority two item, Democratic State Sen. Judith Zaffirini asked the Department of State Health Services commissioner, Dr. David Lakey, what would happen if the patients did not get their medication.

He replied: “The natural progression, without any medications, would be that they die.”

“And this is in priority two, which is really a wish list?” Zaffirini asked. “It is my belief that when we vote on a priority like this we are basically making a decision regarding who lives and who dies.”

Nelson had Lakey explain that one-time-only funding from the federal government paid for the $19.2 million program in the last budget cycle, and now that funding is gone. The program currently provides $6,700 worth of HIV drugs to 14,000 people who don’t have insurance and make less than $30,000 a year, Lakey said.

“I simply cannot vote for this proposal. I believe it is wise to add $4.5 billion, but that is not enough,” Zaffirini said. “And I doubt items in priority two will be funded at this time.”

Even Republicans who voted to recommend the bill to the full Senate Finance Committee said they didn’t like the proposal.

“It’s going to be real hard for me to support the budget out of full committee if we only put the $4.5 billion back,” state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler. “There are too many Texans that need our help that will be hurt if we only do the $4.5 billion.”

Also Thursday, the non-partisan Legislative Budget Board released data that showed the state would lose 335,000 jobs if the current budget proposal in the House became law. The board said the budget would eliminate 188,787 state jobs by the end of 2013 and private companies would eliminate 146,457 jobs under the current House budget proposal.

“The voters did not elect us to eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs,” state Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, said in a statement. “We can’t grow the Texas economy with a budget that destroys jobs, hurts neighborhood schools, and makes college more expensive.”

Both houses of the Legislature are drafting separate versions of the budget, and each cuts spending in different ways. Once each chamber passes a version, lawmakers will meet in a conference committee to come up with a final draft. The current House version calls for no new revenues and avoids spending the $6 billion balance remaining in the state’s Rainy Day Fund. The Senate is looking for $5 billion in new revenues and appears ready to tap the fund.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • CW


    So let them die, we don’t have the money and they are not entitled by right to live off of other peoples money, especially taken against their will through government taxation.

    We are going to have to make MANY,. MANY, MANY tough choices in the years ahead, surely no one thinks the Chinese, Japanese, British, Arab oil states are going to continue to finance our annual national deficit forever?

    • md

      Let them die? My God how have we let these right wing nuts, so-called “Christians” take over? Shame on you Jane Nelson-I’ll pray for you in Church. What would Jesus do?

    • Chris

      What if you were one of those people? Would you have the same opinion then? If your medication was going to be cut and you knew because of it you were going to die, would you be completely fine saying “let me die, I understand the US doesn’t have the money”. Just playing devil’s advocate here, but your opinion seems extremely harsh and inconsiderate seeing as though you probably do no have HIV and therefore do not know the struggles they go through.

      • amy

        what if was your only child that contracted HIV through a boyfriend that she was involved with for a long time and he did not tell her…she was innocent and did not ask for this to happen…how dare you say let them die this is my only child she is beautiful, smart and would die without her medicine because it is so expensive. you will regret the just let them die comment….someday it will happen close to home and you will remember these words

      • CW


        I WOULD have the money OR THE INSURANCE, I am a RESPONSIBLE ADULT nad IF I had a child, that child WOULD NOT be without health insurance.

        Again, I don’t want my tax dollars going to pay for other peoples stupidity and bad choices in life. I don’t care if you like it or not, why don’t YOU GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY?

    • rts

      Typical right wing idocy… Of course, because they are HIV positive they have no reason to live…. When are Americans going to start to care about one another.

    • amy

      CW…why dont you just die and trust me you wont rot you will be sitting on a pitch fork in hell shoved staight up your butt for eternity.,… you should be ashamed of yourself….i hate you

      • CW


        You know how much I care what you feel and think, right? BTW, there is no such thing as hell girl, just a fairy tale to scare little girls like you.

    • darrell

      CW, i dont care what your religion, politics, race or ignorance level is, if it were not for all of us poor people making the sacrifices so you could have a well lubricated neck while your head was up in rear you would break your neck trying to kiss your own backside. now get down from the chair before you fall and go tell your mother youve been a bad child. perhaps she will coddle you and give you a cookie to ease your fears. oh, now see what youve done. youve gone and stained the butter. shame on you.

    • ggb

      wow what a horrible person.

  • Coyotepup4

    Why is it when health care was being overhauled, everyone was so up in arms about ‘death panels’ which wasn’t even part of the bill.

    However, if we choose who lives and dies for real based on money, it’s perfectly OK. It seems that people don’t mind Senate committees acting ‘death panels’ so long as they know they can buy their way to safety.

  • blackforestry

    just die if you are poor and sick but if you are healthy and rich please join our party we will also appreciate your kind donation for the 2012 election.Thank you.

  • chris

    What if you were one of those people? Would you have the same opinion then? If your medication was going to be cut and you knew because of it you were going to die, would you be completely fine saying “let me die, I understand the US doesn’t have the money”. Just playing devil’s advocate here, but your opinion seems extremely harsh and inconsiderate seeing as though you probably do no have HIV and therefore do not know the struggles they go through.

    • CW


      I am NOT one of those poor people and I am NOT asking you or anyone else to pay for anything for me, so I don’t need to concern myself with that.

      Where do you propose the money come from, I have an idea, how YOU AND OTHER PEOPLE WHO FEEL LIKE YOU DO DONATE YOUR MONEY TO PAY FOR THEIR MEDICINE? Does that work for ya? Somehow, I JUST BE IT DOESN’T.

  • CW

    It is REAL SIMPLE, I DO NOT want to PAY FOR THE POOR’S HEALTH CARE, FEED THEM, CLOTHE THEM, EDUCATE THEM. Like my dearly departed Aunt use to say “If they got guts enough to ask, have guts enough to say NO.” I am saying no.

    • Steve

      Matthew 25:34-40 – 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

    • md

      There is a special place where you will be meeting your dearly departed aunt, reserved for people like you.

      • CW


        You are wasting your time with me with all that religious hocus pocus nonsense. No different than voodoo dolls other than many more people adhere to it, that’s all.

        When I die, I will rot and that will be the end of it, PROVE OTHERWISE.

  • jack

    CW so you say let them die HOPEFULLY you catch HIV and you can’t afford the 8000 dollars a month for meds and people like you DIE

    • CW



      If I do HIV, if I can’t afford the meds, lot me die. I have no problem with that.

      But mean time back at the ranch, I don’t have HIV, I don’t engage in behavior that causes HIV and I DO have the money to pay for treatment if it becomes airborne.

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  • Craig

    The good Christian Republicans are murdering people again. They always do this when they hi-jack out government.

  • Jake34

    Seems like Conservative tout Christian values until it hits their pocketbooks.

    • CW


      Seems like Liberals spout off helping until they are told to PAY FOR IT THEMSELVES. Why is that?

      BTW, I AM NOT a Christian, I am a ATHEIST.

      • L J

        CW- Your beliefs are selfish. But thats OK because in America we have the freedom to believe whatever we want to. So, since you are so wealthy and don’t want to share, I suggest that the people who need that medecine to live also act selfishly. As a matter of fact, if you would just let us know where your ranch is, we can come on over and just take whatever we need from you. Thats how it is done in countries where they are as selfish as you are. You said you don’t want to move to a place like that so we’ll just treat YOU the way you want to treat the rest of us. Right, you don’t care that those people will die without that medecine so I don’t think they should care if you die while you try to protect your wealth. Study history and see thats what happens when only the priviledged benefit in a society.

      • Jake34

        I am a Christian, I am a liberal, and I do pay for my own way 100%.

        I also believe society should help its fellow citizens who are unable to help themselves.

        According to your earlier post, I think you should invest in a wristband that says, “If I cannot pay for my treatment, let me die”. that would be putting your actions where your big mouth is.

      • Claudell

        I don’t think being an atheist requires you to cut your heart out.

      • CW

        JAKE 34

        FEEL FREE to donate every last cent of your money to the poor and needy then, you have my blessing. Just keep your hands off of MY WALLET.


      • les

        i agree 100% tax the damn churches and let them pay for it !!!!

      • L J

        CW- Just curious as to how you made your money? Do you think you could have done it without the help of taxpayer money? Well you probably are so proud of your self-reliance and own abilities that you think the rest of us didn’t help you. If you do think that way you are dead wrong! Who paid for your education, who built the roads that you use, who pays to protect you from criminals and war? The answer- all of us.

        The whole idea of having a government by the people is so that we can work together to “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the GENERAL WELFARE, and SECURE THE BLESSINGS OF LIBERTY to ourselves and our posterity”. If you don’t believe in our Constitution, I suggest you pack up the “ranch” and move someplace where the priviledged like yourself just keep everything for themselves and everyone else can be damned! May I suggest Libya, Saudi Arabia or maybe even Cartel controlled Mexico. Good luck!

      • CW


        However I made my money, I PAID MY TAXES that paid for those COMMUNAL SERVICES that you posted about, I however have NEVER gotten direct, personal tax payer assistance in ANY FORM, bet you can’t say the same thing.

        NO, I think I will stay right where I at, how about you folks that are screeching about others paying your way MOVE?

  • don whitley

    i can understand the need to drop this program if the money is unavailable. I know that people who are sick regardless of the illness do need help. is there no other resources available without the government providing it? Local charities or churches or community funding may be the way to finance so that no one goes without help.

  • Craig

    The Great Job Creators are going to put 335,000 people out of work with their new budget. Conservatives are killing our country and themselves. LOL. keep up the good work!!!

  • Jerry Hughes

    Sure, let the poor die while the rich Republicans get more tax breaks for their rich friends. Shame on you!

  • Mr Black

    The heck with the poor, who needs them? I sure don’t! Nobody told them to live the lifestyle they live to get HIV. I wish I didn’t have to pay for these other deadbeats with my tax dollars either!
    I’d like to see idiots try to come onto my property and take what is mine. I bet we run out of idiots before I run out of ammo.

    • CW

      Mr\ Black

      I TOTALLY agree with you and feel the same way. I am completely fed up with these “I ain’t got, can you help me, can you help my kids, can you give me, on and on and on,” I did not make them poor, I did not create them, they are not my problem. I am not a trust fund baby, I didn’t get my money from previous generations, i got everything I have on my own, others can too.

      You bet I am selfish, I could not care less whether other people survive or not if it comes down to me having to share, I don’t want to share what I have worked for. The poor slobs can simply get over it.

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