House Subcommittee Recommends Holding Almost All Ryan White CARE Act Programs at Last Year’s Funding Level
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services on Thursday voted to hold almost all programs under the Ryan White CARE Act -- the federal law that authorizes spending for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs in the United States -- at last year's funding levels, according to an AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families release (AACYF release, 7/8). According to an AIDS Foundation of Chicago Online Action Bulletin, the subcommittee's recommendation "closely follow[ed] President Bush's budget request," which recommended flat-funding for all CARE Act programs, excluding the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. The subcommittee recommended that ADAP receive a $35 million in addition to the $20 million Bush recently made available for the program to address ADAP waiting lists nationwide. Subcommittee members also recommended a $7 million increase over last year's budget for CDC" HIV prevention services, $600 million more for global AIDS relief and $3.3 million more for the Minority AIDS Initiative. (Munar, AFC Online Action Bulletin, July 2004). The bill now will be sent to the full appropriations committee and then to the full House for passage. The Senate has not yet taken any action on its version of the spending bill (AACYF release, 7/8). According to the AFC Online Action Bulletin, it is "unlikely" that Congress will finalize appropriations before the November election, which raises the likelihood that Congress will have to adopt a series of continuing resolutions to fund the government beginning on Oct. 1, when fiscal year 2005 begins (AFC Online Action Bulletin, July 2004).
Patricia Bass, chair of the Communities Advocating Emergency AIDS Relief Coalition, said, "We are extremely disheartened" by the subcommittee's funding recommendations, adding, "This is the fourth consecutive year that the president has recommended no increases for these life-saving programs for people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States" (CAEAR Coalition statement, 7/8). David Harvey, executive director of AACYF, said, "Today, the House subcommittee shirked its responsibility to care for vulnerable American women and children living with HIV/AIDS. If the House doesn't remedy this, we are likely to see HIV-infected women and children standing in line for health care." He added, "While we applaud the president and Congress for efforts to provide funding for the global epidemic, we cannot forget that we have children with AIDS here at home. Congress must fully fund the Ryan White CARE Act." AIDS Alliance President Ivy Turnball said, "This is the third year the Congress has turned its back on American families and provided no increase sin funding for HIV/AIDS care," adding, "It is totally unacceptable" (AIDS Alliance release, 7/8). Cesar Portillo, AIDS Healthcare Foundation's chief of public affairs, said that Thursday's vote "is frankly unacceptable," adding, "Forcing people with HIV to face waiting lists for medical appointments and medications is no way to balance budgets." The AIDS Institute's Director of Global Affairs Drew McCarthy said, "In order for the global effort to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS to be truly global, the Congress and the administration must sufficiently fund efforts domestically and internationally." He added, "Under-funding programs that are designed to keep American families healthy and together undermines the basic fabric of our country and contributes to the negative impact of HIV/AIDS around the world" (TAI release, 7/9).