House, Senate Legislators Propose One-Year Extension of Current Ryan White CARE Act Funding Formula
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and a bipartisan group of Senate and House members on Tuesday introduced draft legislation that would extend for one year the current funding formula for the Ryan White CARE Act, CQ HealthBeat reports. The draft bill also would increase current CARE Act funding levels by 3.7% to about $2.2 billion, according to CQ HealthBeat (Blinkhorn, CQ HealthBeat, 9/27). The draft legislation was introduced as some Senate Democrats are attempting to stall legislation introduced earlier in the session that would reauthorize the CARE Act and change how grant money is distributed, the AP/Washington Post reports (Werner, AP/Washington Post, 9/26). The House Committee on Energy and Commerce last week voted to approve an earlier draft bill that would reauthorize the CARE Act for the next five years. That bill, sponsored by House Commerce Committee Chair Joe Barton (R-Texas), would reauthorize the CARE Act through 2011 and appropriate about $2 billion for fiscal year 2007 in grants to state and local governments for medications, health care and social services. The measure would change how the grant money is distributed in order to provide funds to areas with increasing numbers of HIV-positive people. The legislation would give states a "hold-harmless" period of three years during which a state's CARE Act funding would not be reduced by more than 5% from its FY 2006 appropriation. Legislators from states with large urban areas -- including California, New Jersey and New York -- voted against the House bill, saying it could harm HIV/AIDS programs in areas with higher HIV prevalence.
In May, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions voted 19-1 to approve a similar measure (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 Senate bill would revise the formulas for funding calculations to include HIV cases, and not 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 measure also would mandate 75% of funding go to "core medical services," such as medications and physician visits, and also would set a minimum drug formulary. Sen. Hilary 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/21). Enzi's aides said they would try to get the Senate bill passed this week, maybe by including it in another piece of legislation, the AP/Post reports. According to the AP/Post, "holdouts were getting pressure from Kennedy," who on Tuesday said, "There are few more urgent responsibilities for Congress this week than to pass this bipartisan legislation" (AP/Washington Post, 9/26).
Lautenberg, Clinton Comments
Lautenberg on Tuesday in a press release said that certain changes to the CARE Act proposed by other lawmakers "will put the lives of literally thousands of people at serious risk." Rodham Clinton also in the release said, "We are committed to making sure that those living with HIV and AIDS get the treatment they need ... We must ensure that the New York region, the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic, continues to have adequate funding, while also recognizing the growing needs in states across the country" (Lautenberg release, 9/26).