Ryan White Reauthorization 4
July 29, 2005
Washington, DC -- "Prioritizing medical care for the neediest patients is a sound and commendable approach to reauthorizing the Ryan White CARE Act," remarked Howard Grossman, MD, who is Executive Director of the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM/Academy). Dr. Grossman was referring to the recent release of the Bush Administration's recommendations to Congress for reauthorizing the Ryan White CARE Act, which expires September 30th. "Because our medical providers serve on the front line in the battle against HIV/AIDS, treating more than 315,000 HIV patients, we appreciate that the Administration appears to hold this same high concern for the health of individual patients and the public."
A physician who specializes in treating HIV patients himself, Dr. Grossman went on to explain that, "The Academy is comprised of the people who provide direct medical care to people with HIV/AIDS; clearly our number-one concern during this process is the well-being of these patients."
As articulated in the AAHIVM/HIVMA joint recommendations for strengthening the CARE Act (available at http://aahivm.org/ryan_white030805.html) the Academy believes that Ryan White funding needs to go where the epidemic is now. Good clinical care should not be so dependent on where you live in this country. Thus we were pleased to see the Administration's principles aimed to reduce disparities in care, such as a standardized list of available medications for all, and that the Administration is taking a broad view of what constitutes life-extending care.
We think the Administration's prioritizing taking care of the neediest people living with HIV is on target and do-able. However, noting that the CARE Act structure already works very well to provide services for many needy patients, the Academy urges Congress to be very careful in any reworking of the CARE Act structure, keeping in mind that the currently-served patients should not suffer as a result of any changes. Our concern, above all, must be protecting ALL of our patients. The CARE Act has done well by them to this point. Any changes must not be at their expense.
"The definition of medically necessary care, of 'good health outcomes' goes beyond just pills and doctors' visits," observed John Stansell, MD and Board Chair for the Academy. "So while we appreciate and encourage the Administration's desire to establish and prioritize a core set of medical services, we also recognize that in many cases those services are inaccessible without a network of support services. "
"The CARE Act continues to be under-funded despite new numbers from the CDC suggesting that the epidemic has reached over one million living cases," Dr. Stansell noted, "and there's so much we can still do by way of care and treatment."
"Congress should pass the Early Treatment for HIV Act to expand Medicaid services to those not yet disabled by AIDS as part of this reauthorization. We are blessed by these available medications and we have done so much abroad. We must remember that there are thousands upon thousands of patients here at home who still have no way to get these drugs and other modes of care. We must be aggressive in taking care of these individuals," Stansell concluded.
This article was provided by American Academy of HIV Medicine. Visit AAHIVM's website to find out more about their activities and publications.