Resource Center’s Cece Cox attends White House ‘fiscal cliff’ meeting

RCD CEO Cece Cox, right, at the White House with Texas ACLU Executive Director Terri Burke.

Resource Center Dallas CEO Cece Cox is in Washington, D.C. today at a meeting called “Working together to avoid the fiscal cliff” with about 70 other community leaders from Texas.

The main issue of concern is money for HIV/AIDS programs. Should automatic cuts go into effect, Ryan White money and programs would be affected. An automatic 9 percent funding cut would also affect HOPWA and ADAP programs. HOPWA is housing money that could impact AIDS Services of Dallas and other programs that subsidize rent. ADAP pays for HIV medication for those who cannot afford it.

“When it comes down to people’s lives, there should be no compromise,” said RCD Communications and Advocacy Manager Rafael McDonnell. “These monies are priorities for people living with HIV, and we should be mindful of how important these programs are to members of our community.”

More than 14,000 people in Texas receive their medication through the ADAP program. About 1,300 people could be removed from the program with an automatic funding cut.

The meeting was called by the White House Office of Public Engagement. The White House has been meeting with corporate and civic leaders all week to put pressure on Congress to reach a compromise on taxes and spending.

—  David Taffet

Federal funding cuts affect Resource Center Dallas’ Insurance Assistance Program

Cece Cox

Because of decreased funding from the federal government, Resource Center Dallas is making cuts to its Insurance Assistance Program effective Aug. 1.

The program helps people with HIV who have lost their jobs but still have insurance to maintain that coverage and covers co-pays for HIV medications.

As of Aug. 1, assistance with co-pays will be discontinued. In its letter to affected clients, the organization sent information to help them maintain their medical regimen.

Eligibility for insurance premium coverage will also tighten. Clients will have to verify information quarterly. Gross rather than adjusted gross income will be used to qualify for the program.

Money was cut in the current fiscal year but how these cuts are affecting individual programs is just becoming apparent. In the current budget cutting climate, more cuts could come for the next fiscal year.

“Anybody providing social services is getting hit,” said Cece Cox, executive director and CEO of Resource Center Dallas. “The people who need help most will get hurt the most.”

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Lawmakers refuse funding for HIV/AIDS drugs; 2nd El Paso suspect arrested

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Up to 1,800 low-income Texans with HIV/AIDS could be denied life-sustaining drugs over the next two years, after lawmakers chose not to fund a $19.2 million request from the the state health department for the Texas HIV Medication Program, according to The Dallas Morning News (paid subscription required). Lawmakers claim people won’t be denied access to drugs because the state can siphon off money for the HIV Medication Program from Medicaid, and repay it using a supplemental measure during the 2013 legislative session. But that would require approval from Gov. Rick Perry and the 10-member Legislative Budget Board, and it would make the looming Medicaid shortfall even worse. For political reasons, lawmakers don’t want to raise taxes or use any more of the state’s rainy day fund, so they’re left to make decisions like this. If people are turned away from the HIV Medication Program, it will only result in more new HIV infections and more emergency room visits, which are far more expensive for the state. This is where the tea party gets you, folks, and it’s why these folks should be thrown out on their asses in 2012. But let’s face it, this is not just a fiscal decision. The fact is, some of these lawmakers still view HIV/AIDS as a gay disease, and they believe homosexuality is immoral. The LGBT community should be outraged. Watch video of one client talking about the potential impact of the cuts below.

Ramon Olvera

2. A second suspect has been arrested in connection with a brutal beating and possible hate crime outside a gay nightclub in El Paso on May 7.  Roman Olvera, 19, is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Olvera and a 16-year-old arrested last week allegedly were among six gang members who punched, kicked and hit 22-year-old Lionel Martinez with a baseball bat outside the Old Plantation, while yelling anti-gay slurs. Martinez, who is straight, remains in critical condition. The FBI is investigating Martinez’s beating and other recent hate crimes near the nightclub. LGBT advocates, who say police have failed to address the problem of anti-gay violence, plan a meeting tonight at the local Metropolitan Community Church. CORRECTION: The LGBT group actually met Tuesday night and plans a rally in front of the courthouse next week, according to the El Paso Times.

3. Wade Emmert was elected Dallas County’s new Republican Party chairman Tuesday night. Emmert was endorsed by Log Cabin Republicans President Rob Schlein, who accused Emmert’s tea party opponent of anti-gay tactics during the campaign. Emmert is scheduled to speak to the gay GOP group on Monday. “Congratulations to Wade Emmert for his very decisive victory, 140 vs 95,” Schlein writes on Facebook. “We look forward to being one of the first clubs visited by the new party chairman!”

—  John Wright

LEGE UPDATE: Anti-gay ‘family and traditional values’ item not in Senate’s version of budget

Daniel Williams

The absence of a homophobic budget amendment, movement on anti-bullying legislation and the most adorable committee hearing in recent memory marked this, the 17th week of the Texas Legislature’s 20-week regular session.

The infamous anti-gay amendment to the Texas budget — which would require universities to fund “family and traditional values centers” if they have LGBT resource centers — isn’t in the Senate version budget. While the state’s media focused on whether the Senate would actually vote on the budget, the Finance Committee seems to have quietly skipped over the provision, added by amendment in the House by Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center. Last week the American Independent reported that the Christian amendment would have little to no impact, but its absence from the Senate budget is cause for celebration for LGBT Texans.

Chuck Smith, deputy director of Equality Texas, greeted the news with cautious optimism, explaining that the budget is a massive document, 854 pages long, and although the “family and traditional values” language isn’t in Article III Sec. 56, the entire text would have to be carefully searched before the amendment’s absence was certain.

“If it really is out of there, then I’m pleased,” Smith said, “but I need to do research.”

The full text of the Senate budget can be found here.

—  admin

House Advances ADAP Funding

MAN TAKING MEDICATION PILLS HIV COCKTAIL AIDS X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMThe U.S. House of Representatives has voted to allot an additional million to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program in 2011. Daily News

—  admin