Appeals Court Decision Restores More Than $1M in HIV/AIDS Funds to New York Counties
The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that HHS should restore more than $1 million in Ryan White Program funding to Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York state, the Long Island Newsday reports. The ruling overturns a previous decision by the U.S. District Court, which agreed with the federal government that the counties no longer qualified for the annual amount of Ryan White funding they had received since 1990 (Maloney, Long Island Newsday, 4/28).
Nassau and Suffolk counties in February 2007 filed a lawsuit against HHS to prevent the funding cuts, which were included in a Ryan White Reauthorization Bill (HR 6143). Under previous Ryan White allocations, the counties received $6.1 million annually in funding for services for people living with HIV/AIDS. Under the reauthorization bill, which was signed into law by President Bush in December 2006, Nassau and Suffolk counties and 33 other communities nationwide were placed into one category that share $145 million in funding, down from $458 million under previous CARE Act allocations, because they were no longer considered eligible metropolitan areas. The suit sought to restore Nassau and Suffolk counties' eligible metropolitan status. It also aimed to procure for the counties a waiver for a provision of the bill that states 75% of funding be spent on core medical services (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/1/07).
Federal appeals court Judge John Walker in Friday's decision wrote that although the counties did not record enough new HIV/AIDS cases during the past five years to be considered eligible metropolitan areas, an amendment passed by Congress in 1996 that protected future funding for all regions that met the metropolitan definition in that year allows Nassau and Suffolk counties to retain their funding levels. The counties recorded 1,505 new cases during the past five years, and eligible metropolitan areas generally are defined as recording more than 2,000 new cases, according to the Newsday.
Several agencies that receive HIV/AIDS funding -- including the Long Island Minority AIDS Coalition, Federation Employment and Guidance Service, and Thursday's Child -- joined Nassau and Suffolk counties in the suit. Jennifer Kim, a spokesperson for Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, said that officials are "very pleased with the outcome, and we'll know in the near future how much aid we'll be getting." U.S. attorney's office spokesperson Robert Nardoza declined to comment (Long Island Newsday, 4/28).