PHILADELPHIA, May 25 -- Ten AIDS activists entered the third day of a hunger strike Wednesday, protesting the possible closing of Philadelphia's only AIDS hospice.
The protestors, who are living in tents outside the Betak Hospice, said a lack of state funding could force the facility to close within two weeks, forcing 40 terminally ill patients into shelters or hospitals.
'We're living on water and juice until this is resolved,' said Sabrina Cason of We The People Living with AIDS/HIV of the Delaware Valley.
Cason said the $114 a day per patient the state provides in Medicaid reimbursements covers less than half the operating costs at the hospice.
Emergency cash from the city is is expected to keep the hospice open for another 14 days, but in the meantime, no new admissions are being accepted.
Cason said most other states have special Medicaid reimbursement rates to cover nursing care for AIDS patients. The New Jersey Medicaid program pays $380 per day for AIDS nursing care while New York pays $440 per day, she said.
'The patients are aware of the possibility Betak will close and they don't need that added fear during the last days of their lives,' Cason said.
Cason, who is participating in the hunger strike, said fasting is no fun.
'I try not to think about food,' she said. 'I think about the cause. These people need to know that someone cares about them. For many of them, we're their only family.'NEWLN: (written by David Enscoe, Philadelphia, edited by Harold Martin, New York)