Proposed Changes to Ryan White CARE Act Would Harm Treatment Efforts Among HIV-Positive Latinos, Panel Members Say
Proposed changes to the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides funding for HIV/AIDS programs in the U.S., would result in inadequate funding for treatment efforts among HIV-positive Latinos, members of a panel held by the Latino Commission on AIDS and the Hispanic Federation said on Wednesday, CQ HealthBeat reports (Blinkhorn, CQ HealthBeat, 10/4). Congress on Saturday adjourned without the Senate passing a measure to reauthorize the CARE Act. Five senators, including some from New Jersey and New York, on Friday blocked Senate consideration of a House-approved bill (HR 6143) sponsored by Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) that would change CARE Act funding formulas so that rural areas experiencing increasing numbers of HIV/AIDS cases receive increased funding amounts, which would decrease funding allocated to urban areas. The government will allocate about $2 billion for CARE Act programs in fiscal year 2006. The bill -- which the House last week voted 325-98 to pass -- would authorize funding increases of 3.7% annually from 2008 through 2011. Bono's bill also would require that 75% of CARE Act funds be used for "core medical services," while remaining funds would be allocated for care-related services. Some legislators from states with large urban areas -- including California, New Jersey and New York -- have opposed measures that would change CARE Act funding formulas, saying they could harm HIV/AIDS programs in areas with higher HIV prevalence (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/2).
According to panel member Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.), who opposed the House measure, the proposed changes to the CARE Act would "rob Peter to give to Paul." Solis said that the CARE Act should be expanded, as opposed to redistributing funds among states. She also called for increased efforts to address HIV/AIDS in the Latino community, including language-appropriate outreach efforts. Latinos -- who comprise 14% of the U.S. population -- account for 20% of people living with AIDS in the country. More than 60% of HIV-positive Latinos live in California, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico -- all of which could experience funding decreases under the House reauthorization measure, according to CQ HealthBeat (CQ HealthBeat, 10/4).
A kaisernetwork.org Webcast of the panel session is available online.