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House Dem. Leadership Robs Disadvantaged Americans of Needed HIV/AIDS Funding (Sen. Mike Enzi)

Through a hidden provision in an appropriations bill, House Democrat Leadership is trying to undermine the Ryan White CARE Act (RWCA) reauthorization passed last year, which would ensure more equitable distribution of funds to combat HIV/AIDS in areas of the United States where the disease is growing most.

House Democrat Leadership has craftily and quietly snuck a provision into an appropriations bill that would rob disadvantaged individuals, living in underserved areas of the country, of money they desperately need for HIV/AIDS treatment. This shameful action goes against the very core of the mission of the Ryan White reauthorization passed last year, which revised critically flawed funding formulas to ensure that federal dollars are used to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic of today, not yesterday.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report recently released confirmed that a provision added by House Democrat Leadership to the House appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, H.R. 3043, would take away $9.3 million dollars from areas of the country that have been underserved by Ryan White for years, and give it to areas that have been receiving far more than their fair share of federal dollars. For example, San Francisco, which has a declining HIV/AIDS population, would rob the neediest cities of lifesaving funding. House Democrat Leadership would earmark $6.1 million for San Francisco.

Because of flawed funding formulas previously in Ryan White, there are people in rural and Southern areas — where the HIV/AIDs epidemic is spreading most rapidly — who are dying while on waiting lists to get the treatment they need. The reauthorization bill we passed prevents that. Yet Speaker Pelosi and House Leadership are more concerned with funneling even more money into San Francisco than with saving lives in places where people are dying to get that money.

Today I wrote a letter with others who were instrumental in passing last year’s Ryan White reauthorization bill to Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, asking them to oppose inclusion of this provision in the Senate bill.

We wrote that if this provision is allowed to stand, AIDS healthcare disparities will continue. Outdated funding formulas that have disadvantaged minority populations in the Southeast for years will continue. These outdated formulas have caused fatalities in parts of the nation where people are on waiting lists for life saving drugs while older centers of the epidemic are unable to spend all the funding they receive for HIV/AIDS care.

The RWCA reauthorization bill signed into law last year saves lives by increasing overall investment in Ryan White programs and revising flawed funding formulas, which currently favor states with urban areas and a longer history of AIDS infections over states where the disease is now spreading most rampantly. It better targets funding so that infected persons have better access to high quality health care, improve accountability for health outcomes, and ensure more equitable treatment opportunities for all persons with HIV/AIDS. The House Leadership rider guts the fair funding formulas that save lives.

Tags AIDS Health HIV HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS in China Medicine Pandemics Person Career Politics President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief Ryan White Ryan White Care Act Social Issues Tom Harkin United States Department of Health and Human Services

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