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AIDS Action Applauds Passage Of H.R. 3019 With Ryan White Care Act Funding Increases, Repeal Of Military HIV Ban, Resurrection Of AETCs

Concern Remains About HOPWA Funding, OAR Budget Authority

April 26, 1996

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

Washington, D.C. -- AIDS advocates are expressing relief and elation today with the passage of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1996 (H.R. 3019). Relief because H.R. 3019 at long last funds scores of AIDS programs whose fiscal year 1996 (FY96) funding has been caught in limbo during six months of contentious budget talks between the Republican congressional leadership and the Clinton administration. Elation because in a fiscally- and socially conservative climate AIDS care programs enjoyed a significant funding increase, a previously eliminated AIDS education program was resurrected, and a provision mandating the discharge from active duty of HIV-positive troops was repealed.

"Six months into FY96 and 12 continuing resolutions later we finally have clarity on funding for critical AIDS care, education and housing programs," said Christine Lubinski, deputy executive director of AIDS Action Council, the only national organization devoted solely to advocating on federal AIDS policy and legislation. "Considering the political climate in Washington, we are overjoyed at the significant gains that were accomplished in this budget year by dint of hard work and perseverance in the face of great legislative challenges. Our funding increases were made sweeter with the repeal of the military HIV ban, a victory that represents a massive blow to those who would legislate discrimination against a select group of Americans simply because they are HIV-infected."

Lubinski counts among the victories:

  • a $105.5 million funding increase for the Ryan White CARE program, an increase which elevates FY96 CARE Act funding to $738.5 million. The funding increase approved today includes a $23 million increase for Title I of the CARE Act, which funds cities hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic; $52 million in additional funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which provides prescription drug coverage to people with AIDS who are without private insurance or Medicare coverage; $0.5 million for Title IV of the CARE Act, which funds pediatric AIDS services; and an unexpected $30 million in additional funding distributed over the CARE Act's four titles Ñ a last minute addition that was aggressively pushed by the Clinton administration.
  • the resurrection of the AIDS Education & Training Centers (AETC) program, a 9-year-old program that comprehensively educates health and social service providers in the field of HIV/AIDS and continues to update them regarding changing standards in HIV clinical care. Under H.R. 3019, the AETC program, whose funding was previously eliminated by Congress, receives $12 million in FY96 funding. While this represents a $4.3 million decrease from FY95 funding levels for this vital AIDS education program, AIDS advocates are declaring its rescue from the budget ax a decisive victory.
  • the repeal of a provision in the 1996 Defense Authorization bill which mandated the discharge from active duty of otherwise healthy HIV-positive service members. The provision, championed by Rep. Robert Dornan (R-Calif.), was signed into law earlier this year and was to have been implemented within six months of codification. The military HIV ban repeal language attached yesterday to H.R. 3019 received widespread bipartisan support that was mustered by AIDS advocates and thousands of constituents nationwide.

"We accomplished incredible feats with the passage of this bill. Yet, not all news here is good news," Lubinski said. "We have some serious concerns, not the least of which are the level funding of an overburdened AIDS housing program and the noticeable omission of language restoring the Office of AIDS Research's consolidated budget authority."

  • For the third consecutive fiscal year, Congress has failed to increase funding for the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program, the only federal housing program specifically designed to address the housing needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. H.R. 3019 sets FY96 HOPWA funding at $171 million, while the number of jurisdictions (cities and states) qualifying for formula grants continues to increase Ñin FY96 there are 77, and some 10 to 15 new jurisdictions are expected to become eligible for funding in FY97. AIDS advocates fear that if no new funding is provided, cities and states will continue to experience cuts in funding, and more and more people with AIDS will face homelessness.

"Unfortunately, the drastic cut in the amount of FY96 funding available for all housing programs, combined with President Clinton's failure to make HOPWA a budget priority, made our efforts to get desperately-needed FY96 HOPWA funding increases practically impossible," said Aimee Berenson, legislative counsel at AIDS Action Council. "Regardless, we will continue to press the administration and Congress to explore options for increasing funding for this critically important program in FY96 and FY97."

  • AIDS advocates are extremely concerned that language restoring budget authority to the National Institutes of Health's Office of AIDS Research (OAR) was dropped in House-Senate conference negotiations. Congressional action was taken earlier this year which threatened to end any real budget oversight authority by the OAR over AIDS research conducted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While AIDS advocates are disappointed that H.R. 3019 did not resolve the OAR budget authority issue, they say the issue is by no means dead.

"We will continue to press this issue until there is resolution," said Gary Rose, AIDS Action Council's legislative representative for treatment and research issues. "A strong OAR with consolidated budget authority is crucial to AIDS research efforts in the United States."

With passage of H.R. 3019 and final resolution to the FY96 budget process, Lubinski said the AIDS advocacy community will now change gears to fight to preserve funding gains made this fiscal year and attempt to achieve FY97 funding increases for critical AIDS care, education and prevention, treatment and research, and housing programs.

"We have scored some major victories today for people living with AIDS. The need is far from met, however, and the battles far from over," Lubinski said.

"We must continue to advocate for adequately funded programs that care for those infected and protect the uninfected from this insidious disease."

For more information, contact
Jose Zuniga
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Avenue NW #700
Washington DC 20009
202-986-1300 extension 3042
202-986-1345 (fax)
202-332-9614 (tty)

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.
See Also
Purpose of the CARE Act
Guiding Principles for CARE Act Programs
More News on the Ryan White CARE Act