District cuts funds to Medical Center

Editor’s note

The headline for this article was changed on Jan. 18, 2010. The original headline said the program was connected with the GW Hospital, which is untrue.

Funding for a contract between the GW Medical Center and the city was cut for this fiscal year, as former Mayor Adrian Fenty sought to close D.C.’s $188 million budget deficit.

The Fiscal Year 2011 Proposed Gap Closing Plan included a provision to decrease funding for a contract between the Department of Disability Services and the University Medical Center by 10 percent. The city’s budget was passed by the D.C. Council by a vote of 11-2 over winter break after amendments were made to Fenty’s plan.

The health initiative contracts GW and Georgetown University have with the DDS were both reduced by 10 percent, resulting in a combined savings of $123,000.

The cuts will affect educational outreach efforts for professionals and clinical services.

“The health initiative funds us to work with DDS to increase access to primary care services for adults in the DDS system who are living with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Dr. Lisa Alexander, the program office director of the D.C. Area Health Education Center within the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “We already adjusted our budgets based on these projections.”

Alexander said while the health initiative contract reductions will not involve students, her office “had to cut back on some staff support.”

When the budget plan was up for a vote, some councilmembers were opposed to the proposal’s lack of tax increases.

“Human services, public safety, public education, health care, public works and the government workforce will be cut to the bone,” Tommy Wells, the councilmember representing Ward 6, said in a guest post he wrote for the local blog Greater Greater Washington the day before the council voted on the budget.

“I understand that in this economy, budget cuts are unavoidable. But we’re all in this crisis together. If we are truly one city, then I believe that every citizen needs to step up,” Wells said.

Wells proposed an amendment to the FY 2011 budget proposal to increase taxes, however his amendment was not adopted. Wells voted against the budget plan.

The DDS, which did not return a request for comment, saw its budget slashed overall by $3.2 million.

Before the budget becomes official it is sent to the U.S. Congress, where it is reviewed and can be struck down. Congress has 30 days from the submission of the budget plan to make a ruling; if no ruling is made, the budget becomes a law.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.