Vitale: Gop Failure To Vote Their Conscience Will Hurt Those Suffering From Aids

Catholic Health East-New Jersey unveils a photo exhibit, "Faces of The Uninsured," highlighting eight people who lost their jobs and face illness without medical coverage.

TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex) chastised the Republican Senate caucus today for their failure to support a Senate resolution that would have restored funding to the FY2012 budget for individuals suffering from AIDS. Not a single Republican voted in favor of the resolution.

“Restoring funding so that people with AIDS can get medication seems like an absolute, no-doubt-about-it yes vote to me,” said Vitale. “But my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, every single one of them, decided it was better not to offend the governor than to give people the medicines they need. Their action is callous and simply cruel.”

The resolution, SCR-215, would have restored $7 million that Governor Christie cut from the AIDS Drug Distribution Program (ADDP), bringing the total appropriation to $13.5 million. It would also have restored language allowing an individual whose income does not exceed 500 percent of the federal poverty level to be eligible for coverage for all AIDS-related drugs and all other drugs.

The ADDP provides life-sustaining and life-prolonging medications to low income individuals with no other source of payment for these drugs. Patients in this program are covered for all their drug needs. Patients can only be in this program if they cannot obtain any other federal or State coverage.

The governor’s line item veto limited access for individuals with incomes between 300% and 500% of Federal Poverty Level to other drugs (the governor deleted the Legislature’s addition of the word “all” before other drugs). The governor’s proposed budget included $13.5 million for ADDP, but it was reduced to $6.5 million in his line item veto without explanation. The Administration offered no justification for its reduction in appropriations by $7 million for this program.