New York Counties File Lawsuit Against HHS To Prevent Funding Cuts Under Ryan White CARE Act Reauthorization Bill
Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York state on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against HHS to prevent funding cuts for HIV/AIDS programs under the recently passed Ryan White CARE Act Reauthorization Bill (HR 6143), the Long Island Newsday reports. Under previous CARE Act allocations, the counties received $6.1 million annually in funding for services for people living with HIV/AIDS, according to the Newsday. However, previous CARE Act allocations were scheduled to run out on Wednesday, and HHS officials have said they will announce on Thursday how much the counties will receive under the reauthorization bill, the Newsday reports. Under the reauthorization bill, which was signed into law by President Bush in December 2006, Nassau and Suffolk counties and 33 other communities nationwide are placed into one category that will share $145 million in funding, down from $458 million under previous CARE Act allocations, because they are no longer considered eligible metropolitan areas. The suit seeks to restore Nassau and Suffolk counties' eligible metropolitan status. It also aims to procure for the counties a waiver for a provision of the bill that states 75% of funding be spent on core medical services, the Newsday reports. The counties typically use half of CARE Act funds on medical services because many HIV-positive people in the counties have health insurance. The remaining 50% in funds is used for support services, such as transportation to physician appointments, food vouchers and housing assistance. According to health officials, 13 of the counties' 42 programs would be permitted to continue under the new rule (Bonilla, Long Island Newsday, 2/28).
Funding for Group That Provides Food to HIV-Positive People To Be Reduced by Half
In related news, the not-for-profit group Moveable Feast, which delivers food to people living with HIV/AIDS in Baltimore and surrounding counties, could lose $165,000 in annual funding under the CARE Act reauthorization bill, McClatchy/Baltimore Sun reports. The agency Associated Black Charities under a contract with Baltimore makes funding recommendations for charities that receive CARE Act funds, according to Moveable Feast Executive Director Victor Basile. Associated Black Charities in a 15-page document that outlined 2007 funding priorities recommended a 50% reduction in funding for organizations that provide food and nutrition services to HIV-positive people. According to Associated Black Charities, the recommendation to reduce funding is based on a restriction in the legislation that funds can be used to serve only HIV-positive people and not people who are otherwise affected by the disease. Data from Moveable Feast show that 20% of clients who receive groceries and 12% who receive delivered meals are HIV-negative. Basile has talked with Associated Black Charities to change the recommendation, and a final decision is expected in March, McClatchy/Sun reports. Baltimore Health Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein said, "The federal government has strict rules about when money can be used for people that are not directly affected, and those rules are what the planning council has to interpret and follow" (Fuller, McClatchy/Baltimore Sun, 2/28).