A Roundup: News Briefs and Bulletins
Budget for FY 2002 "Mixed Bag" for HIV/AIDS Funding
Down Side: The Bush Administration budget, released on April 9, does not propose any increase in funding for the Ryan White CARE Act.
Fred Dillon, Director of Public Policy at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, commented, "President Bush is the only President not to request an increase in funding for the Ryan White CARE Act since its passage in 1990." Dillon went on to say, "Presidential leadership on the domestic AIDS crisis is crucial. This is especially true in light of the fact that the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States continues to grow and the treatment, substance abuse, and mental health needs of people living with HIV are increasingly complex."
Up Side: The Administration's budget includes nearly $3 billion in increased funding for three health care initiatives important in HIV/AIDS, including: 1) the development of new community health care centers; 2) increased access to substance abuse treatment services and 3) continuing the five-year effort to double the National Institute of Health's (NIH) budget for medical research.
Down Side: The Budget leaves a $900 million shortfall -- even with an overall increase of $2.1 billion for health care -- to be made up by proposed funding cuts in programs essential to people living with HIV/AIDS. Programs facing possible cuts include HIV-prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AIDS treatment and care programs under the Ryan White CARE Act, and even the drug-approval process at the Food and Drug Administration. And while the President's budget blueprint lists a number of research areas (cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's) to be supported by the NIH increase, it does not specifically list HIV/AIDS.
Scott Everts Named Director of White House Office of National AIDS Policy
The Bush Administration has appointed Scott Everts to head up the reorganized White House Office of National AIDS Policy, which will now include a staff from both the Department of State and the Department of Health and Human Services. Everts will also be a member of a new task force, headed jointly by Secretary of state Colin Powell and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, assembled to coordinate the U.S. response to AIDS both here and abroad. Other task-force members include National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Domestic Policy Advisor Margaret La Montagne.
Mr. Everts was previously a fundraising executive of a faith-based senior-citizens program in Milwaukee. He has also served as a fundraiser for a Catholic AIDS Ministry and a Wisconsin Right-to-Life group. Mr. Everts, who is openly gay, is the former head of the Wisconsin Log Cabin Republicans. He has recently been the target of several conservative organizations criticizing his appointment as well as his support of various HIV-prevention efforts.
Medicare Funding Increase Fails in Senate
The U. S. Senate failed in a 50/50 vote to pass the Baucus-Graham Amendment, which would have more than doubled the funding proposed in the Administration's budget to provide a comprehensive Medicare prescription-drug benefit.
Claudia French, Executive Director of AIDS Action, said in statement released April 4, "Medicare matters to people with HIV/AIDS. One in five people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States depends on Medicare for their health care." She added, "This legislation would have provided the resources necessary for a Medicare prescription-drug benefit that would make a real difference for people living with AIDS."
High Court Declines to Hear Case on Capping of HIV/AIDS Coverage
The U. S. Supreme Court recently rejected a case challenging Time Insurance's cap on AIDS care. At the time of his death in March 1995 from AIDS-related illness, Michael McNeil, a Texas optometrist, had accrued more than $400,000 in unpaid medical expenses. His policy limited AIDS-related care to $10,000 during the time of the illness. Michael McNeil's father brought the suit. The petition asked the Court to determine if Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to discriminatory health plans. In February 2000, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had dismissed the case and concluded the discriminatory provision of the health-insurance policy was not actionable.
This article was provided by American Academy of HIV Medicine. It is a part of the publication The Nexus. Visit AAHIVM's website to find out more about their activities and publications.