President Bush Signs Ryan White CARE Act Reauthorization Bill
President Bush on Tuesday signed into law the Ryan White CARE Act Reauthorization Bill (HR 6143), which provides funding for HIV/AIDS programs in the U.S., the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune report (Riechmann, AP/San Diego Union- Tribune, 12/19). Congress earlier in the month passed by voice vote the bill that reauthorizes the CARE Act. The legislation calls for strengthening "hold harmless" provisions and maintaining funding levels so that states will not receive less than 95% of their 2006 funding levels; counting all HIV-positive people for funding regardless of where they live or how the data are reported; maintaining the funding pool for prescription drugs and therapeutics; continuing HHS' development of a framework addressing HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and a follow-up report of its progress in 2008; and maintaining a four-year transition period for states with code-based reporting systems to switch to names-based reporting systems without penalization. The bill also repeals the Ryan White program after three years, forcing Congress to write a new law and reconsider the program's structural challenges before then (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/13).
"This is an important day for people living with HIV and AIDS and for all Americans," Sen. Edward Kennedy (Mass.), ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and co-author of the legislation, said, adding, "My hope is that as we continue to improve the Ryan White CARE Act to meet the needs of those facing this disease, the remedies we adopt will continue to come from the bright lights of science, not the dark fears of bigotry" (Kennedy release, 12/19). Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said, "We applaud the passage of a bill that now prioritizes medical care over bureaucracy, and urge the Health Resources and Services Administration to quickly begin to act in accordance with the parameters of the new law" (AIDS Healthcare Foundation release, 12/19). "Today's signing of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act is a crucial step in our ongoing battle against HIV and AIDS," House Speaker-elect Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, adding, "But our work is not yet done. We must remain vigilant in our fight against HIV and AIDS, recognizing that the reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act is only one of the many steps we must take if we are to make HIV and AIDS a distant memory" (Pelosi release, 12/19). HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said, "I am very pleased that President Bush signed the reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act into law, ... and I thank members of Congress for working in a bipartisan manner to pass this essential legislation" (HHS release, 12/19).