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Coburn HIV Prevention Act Gains Support/Opposition;
Nickles Introduces Companion Bill In The Senate

April 25, 1997

The HIV Prevention Act of 1997 (H.R. 1062), introduced by Representative Tom Coburn (R-OK) now has a total of 88 cosponsors [See list below for new co-sponsors]. A companion bill (S. 503) has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Don Nickles (R-OK). The Nickles bill is identical to the Coburn bill except that it does not require that states implement the provisions of the bill in order to receive Medicaid funding.

Representative Coburn and Senator Nickles are working to get further support for their bills.

Thanks to AIDSWatch visits, many sponsors of H.R. 1062 are reconsidering their support of this bill. However, continuous communication with your congressional representatives is necessary in order to defeat these bills. There is a very real danger that both bills or parts of the bills will be attached to appropriations or other authorization bills and it is crucial that we prevent this from happening.

Call, e-mail and write to your Representatives and Senators (especially those mentioned in the summary below) and urge them NOT to co-sponsor H.R. 1062 or S. 503 or to support any of their provisions if they are attached to other spending or authorization bills.

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Tell them:

Both bills would impose huge unfunded mandates on states and also require that over 265 state laws be changed. This would cost states in excess of $420 million to implement.

Neither bill does anything in the way of real HIV prevention. Real prevention must be developed at state and community levels where they can best assess how to meet the needs of their particular at-risk populations, NOT come in the form of mandates handed down from Washington.

Both bills would allow medical professionals to refuse to treat patients unless they submit to an HIV test.

The Coburn Bill (H.R. 1062) will force state compliance by holding vital state Medicaid funding hostage. Medicaid funding finances basic health care services for more than 37 million Americans, including over half of all adults and 90 percent of all children living with HIV/AIDS.


New H.1062 Co-Sponsors
(for a complete list contact Tracy at ext. 3053)

Rep. William Lipinski (D-IL)
Rep. James Traficant (D-OH)
Rep. Anne Northup (R-KY)
Rep. Bill Paxon (R-NY)
*Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) has removed his name from the list of House cosponsors.

S.503 Cosponsors

Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK)
Sen. Robert Smith (R-NH)
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)

Public health and health care provider associations which oppose the Coburn/Nickles bills include the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, the American Nurses Association, and the National Governors' Association (NGA). In particular NGA opposes the establishment of a national partner notification and tracking system permitting funeral service practitioners to refuse to provide services to a deceased individual unless an HIV test was performed on the corpse placing "Medicaid funding at risk in order to advance testing requirements of dubious merits."

If you require further background on H.R. 1062 or S. 503, please contact AIDS Action Council at 202-986-1300, ext. 3053.


Sample Letter To Congress In Oppostion To The Coburn/Nickles Bill

Date

Honorable Member of Congress
U.S. House of Representatives/Senate
Washington, DC 20515/20510

Dear Member of Congress:

We [name of organization] located in your district, strongly oppose the HIV Prevention Act of 1997 (H.R. 1062/S. 503) introduced in the House by Representative Tom Coburn (R-OK)/Senate by Senator Don Nickles (R-OK). In our view, the bill not only fails to support effective, community-based strategies that will prevent more Americans from becoming infected with HIV and assist those infected in securing early treatment, but contains numerous provisions that would undermine these efforts. For example, the legislation would allow medical professionals to refuse to treat patients unless they submit to an HIV test and discourage individuals from seeking HIV testing since the bill puts anonymous testing in jeopardy by requiring states to share information on those who test positive in order to create a federal partner notification program. Many of its proposed policies have either been resoundingly rejected by medical, public health and prevention experts, or should only be implemented at the discretion of state health officials. In addition, the bill imposes huge unfunded mandates on states and will require that at least 265 state laws be changed and cost states in excess of $420 million to implement.

[for the Coburn bill only]

The Coburn bill also amends Title XIX of the Social Security Act (the Medicaid law), holding back billions of federal Medicaid dollars from states in order to force state compliance with the bill's provisions and imposing huge and costly unfunded mandates on state and local governments. State Medicaid funds, when pooled with federal Medicaid funding, finance basic health care services for more than 37 million Americans, including over half of all adults and 90 percent of all children living with HIV/AIDS.

We strongly urge you to oppose this legislation and allow states and communities to continue to develop comprehensive HIV prevention programs with support rather than interference, from Washington.

Sincerely,





For more information, contact:

AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Avenue NW #700
Washington DC 20009
202-986-1300, extension 3053
202-986-1345 (fax)
202-332-9614 (tty)
E-Mail: aidsaction@aidsaction.org



  
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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.
 
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