August 28, 2000
HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala announced today that the Department of Health and Human Services began notifying the first eligible families that will receive payments from the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund.
The initial recipients are being notified via letters as applications are approved, consistent with the process established by HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), in consultation with The National Hemophilia Foundation, The American Federation of Hemophiliacs and the hemophiliac advocacy group, The Committee of Ten Thousand. The application and payment process was developed by HRSA to assure that funds will be made available to eligible individuals as quickly as possible. More than 4,300 petitions were received since July 31, the first postmark day that petitions were accepted. Approximately 670 recipients will receive compensation with fiscal year 2000 funds.
"Congress should act now to fulfill our obligation to those who contracted HIV through contaminated blood products during the 1980s," said Secretary Shalala. "Now, that the distribution system is in place, we will redouble our efforts to encourage Congress to fully fund the Rick Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund so that all of the estimated 7,500 eligible individuals can receive compensation."
The Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund was authorized in 1998 to provide compensation payments of $100,000 to individuals with blood-clotting disorders, such as hemophilia, who contracted HIV from contaminated anti-hemophilic blood products between July 1, 1982 and Dec. 31, 1987. Spouses and children who contracted HIV from these individuals and certain survivors may also be eligible. In 1999, the Clinton-Gore administration worked with Congress to achieve a $75 million appropriation for fiscal year 2000.
"This is an important first-step towards fulfilling our commitment to helping people with hemophilia who have contracted this serious disease," stated John D. Podesta, chief of staff of the President of the United States. "But," he said, "we must do more and enact the President's proposal to fully fund the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund for 2001."
The Clinton-Gore administration requested $100 million in the fiscal year 2001 appropriation bill, and $475 million in its proposal to restore Medicare provider payment reductions enacted in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which would assure funding for the $750 million authorized under the act to administer the program and compensate the estimated 7,500 eligible individuals.
For more information on the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund contact HRSA's Web site at http://www.hrsa.gov/bhpr/rickyray/ or toll-free phone line at 1-888-496-0338.