Danville, VA -- For many, receiving medication can make the difference between life and death, but the Gov. McDonnell's budget proposal may make it harder for those in financial strains to get their needed meds.
The budget includes reducing second-year funding to healthcare organizations around the state, which includes the Virginia Community Healthcare Association, the Virginia Health Care Foundation, and the Virginia Association of Free Clinics.
The Piedmont Access to Health Services, or PATHS, serves folks all over the Southside. And they rely on government funding to continue their day to day operations.
CEO of PATHS Kay Crane says he's never seen such drastic cuts.
"It's going to really impact our ability to continue providing services at the level we currently are, especially when it comes to our medications assistance program," he said.
That's a program that provides the uninsured, the low-income and the in-need medications that are often life-saving.
"We are seeing 50 to 55 % uninsured in Danville and Chatham. We are seeing 70 % uninsured in Martinsville. So it's a constant struggle to get that pair mix right so we can stay in business," said Crane.
With McDonnell's proposed budget cuts, PATHS's funding would be slashed in half.
"With these cuts it's going to be even more challenging. And we are talking about people's lives here," said Crane.
Karen Richardson comes to PATHS to pick up her insulin for diabetes and pills for blood pressure. To her, the budget cut would mean more than a lower number on a piece of paper; it could cost Karen her health.
"I wouldn't be able to afford it. Because insurance, they don't take care of everything. And you know without my medications, I couldn't do without it," said Richardson.
"If you have a chronic illness like diabetes or high blood pressure, you have to have them. It puts your life in danger if you don't," said Crane.
Crane says PATHS needs the money, for every dollar of medication assistance, they provide $100 of free medications to their patients.
"If we have to then cut back and maybe say we can't help you with your medication, they are not going to get it," says Crane.
McDonnell's representatives said in a statement that the federal healthcare reform will require more people to go on Medicaid, so the need for the major safety net programs funded through the Virginia Department of Health will also decrease. They said they will continue to assess the need and available funding.
Meanwhile, PATHS officials say they will look other places for the money and hope they can overcome this challenge.
As reported by WSET-13, January 9, 2011