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The AIDS Institute Calls on Senate To Increase Ryan White CARE Funding
The AIDS Institute Executive Director Gene Copello has sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Chair Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) that calls for increased funding for Ryan White CARE Act programs, CQ HealthBeat reports. The House version of the fiscal year 2006 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill (HR 3010), which was approved last month, includes a $10 million increase in federal funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program over FY 2005, but funding for all other Ryan White CARE Act programs would be kept at FY 2005 spending levels. Although President Bush requested flat funding for the AIDS programs, the appropriations approved by the House are the "worst in years," TAI Director of Federal Affairs Carl Schmid said. However, HHS spokesperson Christina Pearson said the administration's funding requests for HIV/AIDS programs are "substantial," adding that the administration has made "an unprecedented effort" in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the United States and internationally. Ryan White programs are up for reauthorization during the current two-year congressional session, and some lawmakers might be hesitant to increase federal funding until the programs are re-evaluated, according to Schmid. He added that ADAP needs an increase of $300 million in FY 2006 to "make the program whole," but he acknowledged that reaching that funding level is improbable. Schmid said the goal is to get Congress to add "at least $100 million" to the $787.5 million ADAP currently receives. TAI is hoping that increases for Ryan White funding are included in an amendment to the draft Senate version of the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, which is expected to be released on Tuesday. Copello also condemned a House-approved FY 2006 $4 million cut to CDC's HIV prevention and surveillance programs and called for a $10 million increase in funding for CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis (CQ HealthBeat, 7/11).
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