Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Editorial, Letter to Editor on Reauthorization of Ryan White CARE Act
The New York Times and the Washington Post on Friday published opinion pieces on the reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in May voted 19-1 to approve a bill (S 2823) -- co-sponsored by HELP Committee Chair Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) -- that would amend the CARE Act by allocating more federal HIV/AIDS funding to Southern and rural states. The bill would revise the formulas for funding calculations to include HIV cases, rather than just AIDS cases, and would create a tiered system of larger and smaller cities in an effort to distribute funds to more rural states. The bill also would mandate that 75% of funding go to "core medical services," such as medications and physician visits and also would set a minimum drug formulary. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was the only HELP committee member to vote against the bill, saying states with urban centers are most affected by HIV/AIDS and should not have their funding reduced. She added that New York state could lose $20 million under the proposed revisions (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/23). Summaries appear below.
New York Times: The proposal to redistribute federal HIV/AIDS funding to more rural states would "deny" urban areas "tens of millions of dollars" to combat HIV/AIDS, a Times editorial says. The disease has "hardly waned" in "states that first confronted the challenge a generation ago," and a funding cut "would be traumatic" for HIV-positive people currently receiving treatment, according to the Times. "In effect, the potential urban losers stand to be penalized for having shown the way in fighting the AIDS scourge," the editorial says, adding that about $100 million more will be needed to "finance the AIDS fight" in both rural areas and cities. "Surely, a Congress that repeatedly spends far more on favored pieces of hometown pork can find the wherewithal to see to this life-and-death issue for the entire nation," the editorial concludes (New York Times, 9/1).
Washington Post: Legislation to renew the CARE Act has "stalled" because there has been "widespread bipartisan opposition to the Senate bill from many members of Congress" and HIV/AIDS advocates, Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Ed Towns (D- N.Y.) write in a Post letter to the editor. According to Engel and Towns, there are "few pieces of legislation as important to New York" state as the CARE act, and the state spends "more money than any other state" on HIV/AIDS care and treatment. HIV-positive people in New York state account for 17% of AIDS cases in the U.S., and a reduction in federal funding could prevent the state from "adequately helping" 110,000 HIV-positive New York state residents, Engel and Towns write. They add that the state could lose up to $24 million "in the first couple of years" if a proposal to "factor in the availability of state and local resources when allocating federal funding" is approved. "[I]t is our responsibility as members of Congress to reject attempts to reward states that have failed to do their fair share to help people with HIV/AIDS at the expense of states that have," Engel and Towns conclude (Engel/Towns, Washington Post, 9/1).