Needle Exchange Restrictions Included In House Bill Could Hinder Programs, Advocates Say
A recently passed House spending bill that lifts the ban on the use of federal funding for needle exchange programs, which included an amendment addressing the locations of needle exchanges, "according to many health and human rights advocates, has been diluted to the point that it won't help the same urban areas most afflicted by" blood-borne illnesses such as HIV, the Washington Independent reports. House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) added an amendment to the bill that prohibits needle exchanges from operating "within 1,000 feet of schools, daycare centers and other areas where children are likely to congregate," according to the Independent. Obey "included the restriction, not because he supports it, but to appease conservative critics who might have killed the entire provision otherwise," the article states. William McColl, political director for AIDS Action, said, "In an urban environment, that really is a restriction on almost anywhere."
The Senate's version of the spending bill does not include language lifting the ban. According to the article, "Needle exchange supporters on and off Capitol Hill are hoping to remove the geographic restrictions when the two chambers meet to hash out the differences between the two bills a process that won't arrive until September, at the earliest" (Lillis, 7/31).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.