July 10, 2013
Washington, D.C. -- "The AIDS Institute recognizes Chairman Tom Harkin for his leadership in maintaining the United States Senate's strong commitment to domestic HIV programs by increasing funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and maintaining funding for the rest of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and HIV prevention at the CDC," commented Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director of The AIDS Institute.
"We are grateful that during these difficult budgetary times, Chairman Harkin and his colleagues realize the important role the federal government plays in preventing infectious diseases, such as HIV, and the need to provide care and treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS. Doing so keeps those with the disease healthy and reduces new infections," continued Schmid.
Under the FY14 spending bill passed yesterday by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies, funding for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program would increase by $51 million over FY13 enacted levels. The Ryan White Program provides medical care, treatment and other services to 550,000 low-income people with HIV and has been struggling to keep up with growing patient loads.
As part of the increase, the Senate is proposing to boost funding for ADAP by $47 million, the same level as proposed by the President. Many state ADAPs had to institute waiting lists in recent years due to increased demand for lifesaving medications. Since there was a dramatic loss of ADAP funding in FY13, the Obama Administration recently transferred $35 million in emergency funding to ADAP to ensure that patients currently on medications can continue to receive them. The Subcommittee action ensures those patients will continue to receive their medications next year and provides for an additional $12 million in new funding.
The Committee maintains spending for HIV prevention at the CDC at $755 million. There continues to be about 50,000 new HIV infections each year yet the federal government allocates only 4% of its domestic HIV spending on prevention. Funding for Hepatitis Prevention at the CDC would remain at approximately $30 million. The AIDS Institute is disappointed the Committee did not increase investment in prevention needed to bring down the number of HIV and hepatitis infections and carry out the National HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis Strategies.
Medical research at the National Institutes of Health under the bill would increase by a modest $307 million.
Included in the bill is funding to implement the Affordable Care Act, including the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is critically important to providing access to care and treatment for people with HIV/AIDS as well as preventing HIV.
The full Senate Appropriations Committee is slated to consider the measure on Thursday, July 11th.
"Both the President and the Senate have demonstrated great leadership in addressing HIV/AIDS at home," commented Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. "We are still waiting to see what the House of Representatives will do, which has differing views on how to address federal spending."
Recently, The AIDS Institute released an analysis that showed sequestration and other budget cuts have already resulted in cuts of $375 million from the federal government's response to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic. If the cuts outlined in the House of Representative's budget are applied across the board, an additional $1.1 billion would be slashed.
The appropriation bills being considered by the Senate, along with the President's budget, restore the damaging cuts caused by sequestration. The House is taking a different approach.
"We hope that all parties soon can come to an agreement that will end the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the federal budget and in the process, adequately fund critical public health programs, including those that prevent HIV and provide for care and treatment for people living with HIV," Ruppal concluded.