Donald Trump’s administration wants to cut funding for HIV treatment and prevention, COVID-19 relief, newborn screenings, and other health care programs in what the president deems “anarchist” cities.
Trump issued an order September 2 calling on all federal agencies to review funds sent to four cities he claims promote “lawlessness”: New York City, Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C. The cities were among many where protests over systemic racism and police brutality took place this summer, and Trump has contended that their leaders — particularly, their Democratic mayors — did not do enough to keep order.
Politico this week published an article detailing the programs that could be affected in those four cities, based on a list obtained from the Department of Health and Human Services.
“The HHS list offers the most detailed picture yet of the administration’s efforts to quickly comply with the Trump directive and the potentially large cuts facing these cities even as the pandemic strains local budgets,” the publication reports. “It isn’t immediately clear what criteria the budget office will use to evaluate the grants — or how or when cuts may be made.”
One of the grants being scrutinized consists of $850,000 to be spent through 2025 in King County, Wash., which includes Seattle, for HIV prevention, toward the goal announced by Trump to greatly reduce HIV transmissions. Others fund addiction recovery services, hearing screenings for newborns, nutrition counseling, mental health treatment, care for COVID-19 patients, and more.
The HHS list was among those submitted by all federal departments by last week’s deadline to the Office of Management and Budget, which will ultimately decide what to be cut. But officials in those cities as well as health activists are vowing to fight the cuts.
“Any effort by the Trump administration to slash coronavirus relief funds or lifesaving HIV treatment, under the misguided guise of scoring political points, would be deeply harmful and even illegal under current appropriations laws,” said a joint statement issued Wednesday by AIDS United, NASTAD, the National Coalition of STD Directors, NMAC, and the AIDS Institute.
“The programs identified by the White House are critical components in our ongoing efforts to end the HIV epidemic and global pandemic, and curtailing these lifesaving services would put this administration’s own goal of reducing new HIV transmissions by 90 percent by 2030 at risk. Jeopardizing the health of underserved and at-risk communities is a clear abdication of presidential responsibilities and we vehemently oppose any such actions.”
New York City and Seattle have also threatened legal action if funds are cut, as has the U.S. Conference of Mayors, according to Politico.