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Press Release

House Health Spending Bill Shows Stark Differences Between President and Senate

Proposes Major Increases for AIDS Medications but Large Cuts for Other Programs

July 18, 2012

Washington, D.C. -- "Despite proposed significant increases for AIDS medications, overall, the House spending bill would set back our Nation's progress in preventing HIV and caring for those who have HIV/AIDS in our country," commented Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director of The AIDS Institute.

House Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) has released a fiscal year 2013 spending bill that will be marked up by the Subcommittee today. Like last year, the bill shows stark differences between the President's budget and the U.S. Senate, primarily by huge program cuts, gutting health reform, and continuing non-science based prevention policies.

While a $102 million, or 11 percent, increase to the struggling AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) is very welcome news, it comes at the expense of over $114 million, or 8 percent, cuts to other parts of the Ryan White Program. These programs provide health care and supportive services to over half a million low-income people with HIV/AIDS. While demand for AIDS medications has received most of the attention due wait lists in many states, demand for health care has risen too. By contrast, the Senate bill proposes no cuts to these programs.

The House bill would cut by $105 million, or 9.5 percent, funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. It is not known at this time where those cuts at the Center will occur. There are an estimated 50,000 new HIV infections each year and over 200,000 people unaware of their infection. The U.S. government invests only about 4 percent of its HIV funding in prevention. In order to reduce the number of new infections and increase testing levels, the President has proposed an increase of $40 million for HIV prevention in FY13.

On top of the cuts to CDC's budget, the bill would ban federal funding of syringe exchange programs, a scientifically proven method to prevent HIV and other infections while not increasing drug use, and would increase spending on failed abstinence only until marriage programs. Additionally, the bill would decimate the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program by cutting its budget from $105 million to $20 million; eliminate all Title X spending, which includes funding for HIV testing programs for women; and the entire Prevention and Public Health Fund.

Chairman Rehberg's bill prevents implementation of much of the Affordable Care Act, which when implemented would both bring many people with HIV/AIDS into lifesaving care and treatment for the first time and help to prevent HIV.

Funding for medical research at the National Institutes of Health would remain flat.

"While we greatly appreciate Chairman Rehberg's attention to the ADAP crisis, caring for people with HIV is not just about medications but also the health care and support services that are required in providing quality care," commented Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. "Next week, the eyes of the world will be on Washington, DC, as the International AIDS Conference convenes to discuss advancements in AIDS treatment and prevention, and the policies needed to end AIDS. There will much to celebrate with a National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and funding and policies put forth to implement it. If this bill were to pass, while more people with HIV will be able to get their medications in the short term, in the long term more people would be infected and more people will be left without adequate care and treatment. We urge the House to reject many parts of this bill, and pass a bill that is more in line with the views of the President and the Senate when it comes to AIDS," Ruppal concluded.

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This article was provided by The AIDS Institute. Visit The AIDS Institute's web site to find out more about their activities and publications.
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