National Minority AIDS Council Calls Report Documenting ‘Waste’ Among Federal AIDS Programs ‘Misguided’
The Citizens Against Government Waste report stating that federally funded AIDS programs are "plagued by waste" is "misguided ... virulent and homophobic," and its recommendations for restructuring of federal AIDS spending "would spell certain death for poor people and communities of color most impacted by HIV/AIDS," according to a statement by National Minority AIDS Council Executive Director Paul Kawata (NMAC release, 2/18). The CAGW report, released last week and titled "AIDS Programs: An Epidemic of Waste," calls for the "waste and abuse" in federally funded HIV/AIDS programs to be "eliminated or redirected." The report says that the government provides duplicate funds for HIV/AIDS treatment, as both Title I of the Ryan White CARE Act and Medicare/Medicaid provide health care for people with HIV/AIDS. In addition, the report states that Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS, a program funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development that provides housing to low-income people with AIDS, duplicates HUD's Section 8 housing program. According to the report, eliminating the duplicate funding could save $920 million annually (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/15). Redirecting federal funding from Title I of the Ryan White CARE Act to Medicaid would cut off services for people with HIV who are ineligible for Medicaid, Kawata notes, asking, "Does CAGW propose that we turn our backs on more than 127,000 men, women and children living with HIV in this country?" Kawata also criticized the report as homophobic because it "singles out and attacks prevention efforts aimed at reaching gay men," such as the San Francisco-based Stop AIDS Project. Kawata said that the "overwhelming majority" of federally funded HIV/AIDS programs are providing needed services to people living with HIV/AIDS. "Clearly, if fraud and abuse exis[t] in AIDS programs, it must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but that by no means justifies dismantling or cutting funds to legitimate organizations and programs that are desperately needed," Kawata concluded (NMAC release, 2/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.