Sen. Coburn Calls for Ryan White Reauthorization To Correct Imbalance in Distribution of Federal HIV/AIDS Funds
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Thursday called for the 2005 reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act to correct imbalances in the distribution of federal grants that favor areas with high concentrations of AIDS cases while "shortchanging" areas with HIV-positive people who have not advanced to AIDS, CQ HealthBeat reports. During a Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security hearing on the issue, Coburn said the act "ignores the vast majority of those living with HIV," adding, "AIDS cases comprise only a fraction of those living with HIV." Because grants are based on the number of AIDS cases, funds for testing and prevention, as well as antiretrovirals to keep HIV-positive patients from advancing to AIDS, are less than they should be, according to Coburn (CQ HealthBeat, 6/24). In addition, "tens of millions of CARE Act dollars go unspent annually in some jurisdictions while other states find themselves faced with cutting patients' access to AIDS drugs," Coburn said. He also called attention to GAO testimony given on Thursday that examined inequities in the act's current funding methods. Coburn said Congress must find a "gentle way" to address the funding problems without disturbing current programs (Myers, Tulsa World, 6/24).
A kaisernetwork.org webcast of the hearing is available online.