As the executive director of AIDS Housing Association of Tacoma (AHAT), I see daily how the cuts already implemented within our state have left social services bleeding and weakened. Further cuts will diminish our state’s ability to help its most vulnerable citizens as they fall through the holes of our shrinking safety net.
We are facing increased challenges in serving our clients due to decreases in adult dental care, Medicaid and Disability Lifeline. For AHAT’S clients, many of whom are disabled and unable to work, these cuts have been devastating.
At a recent town hall meeting with Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Susan Dreyfus, I learned that the proposed cuts would include a near elimination of adult drug treatment and a significant decrease in adult prescription drug coverage. For AHAT clients, this would mean that AIDS drugs would be covered, but medications for other health conditions would be eliminated.
That is a risky proposition for AHAT’S clients. Treating one illness while ignoring other underlying health conditions may lead to more costly health care consumption, including hospitalization. We need this crucial lifeline that provides access to all medications that our clients need to stabilize their health.
If we continue to slash and burn the social safety net, our state will pay in increased hunger and homelessness and a decrease in community health.
No more cuts. It’s time to raise revenue. As a citizenry, we must decide what kind of state we want to be. We must recommit to end HIV/AIDS.