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AIDS Action Weekly Update

August 30, 1996

Welcome to AIDS Action Council's Weekly Washington Update, an on-line newsletter that reviews what is happening in Washington on AIDS policy issues each week. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at the e-mail address listed below.

Democratic National Convention

In Chicago this week, Democratic delegates gathered in the United Center for the Democratic National Convention. During the convention two people with AIDS (PWAs), Phill Wilson, former Public Policy Director at AIDS Project Los Angeles, and Debbie Runions, a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, addressed delegates and asked the Democrats to take a leadership role in the fight against AIDS. The Democratic platform on AIDS included support for AIDS prevention, research, treatment, care, and housing. AIDS activists are hoping that President Clinton will continue to provide leadership and adequate resources for AIDS programs, especially next month when Congress completes work on the FY 97 AIDS budget.

End Of Recess; Labor-HHS And VA-HUD Appropriations Concerns

The month-long Congressional recess ends next Tuesday when members of the House and Senate return to work. With the adjournment of Congress likely to occur on or before October 4, legislators are under enormous pressure to pass several pending pieces of legislation, particularly the twelve remaining appropriations bills. AIDS advocates are hopeful that the AIDS research, prevention, and care programs within the Senate FY 97 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (H.R. 3755), will receive increases that are equal to or better than they did in the House version of the bill. However, advocates remain concerned that these increases may not be enough to sustain the increasing needs of people with and at risk for HIV/AIDS. In the House bill, AIDS programs enjoyed the following increases above FY 96 levels: $91.5 million for research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $15 million for prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), $10 million for Title I of the Ryan White CARE Act, $30 million for Title II of the CARE Act, $5 million for Title IIIB of the CARE Act, $5 million for Title IV, $4.3 million for the AIDS Education and Training Centers, and $.6 million for the AIDS Dental Reimbursement program. The fact that this bill has not yet been marked up in Senate Subcommittee makes the threat of a continuing resolution (CR) a very real possibility, and AIDS advocates are concerned that such a measure will not only ignore the president's $65 million supplemental request for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), but could disregard the above-mentioned modest increases allotted for AIDS programs in the House Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill.

The Senate FY 97 VA-HUD appropriations bill (H.R. 3666) is slated to come to the floor shortly after members of Congress return. Although the bill, as marked up in full committee, flat-funds the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program at the post-rescission FY 95 level of $171 million, the possibility remains that the Administration's amended FY 97 request of $196 million will prevail either on the Senate floor or perhaps in a conference strategy. AIDS advocates will work closely with legislators to ensure that HOPWA receives an increase in funding for FY 97.


Legal Immigrants Offered Slight Protections In Welfare Reform

President Clinton has begun to make some headway in fulfilling his promise to fix the objectionable provisions against legal immigrants within the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (H.R. 3734). The bill, which the president signed earlier this month, achieves much of its savings by denying federal benefits, including Medicaid, to legal immigrants. Since signing the bill, however, Clinton issued a directive to Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman ordering that states be additional time to ensure that legal immigrants eligible for food stamps continue to receive them. The waiver includes a caveat that limits the extension to one year for most legal immigrants and two years for those who are elderly or disabled.

FDA Reform Stall

Despite continued negotiations, legislation to reform the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remains at a standstill. Mark-up of the three House bills (H.R. 3199, H.R. 3200, H.R. 3201) by the House Health and Environmental Subcommittee was to have occurred before the Congressional recess, but has been put off until September. On the Senate side, floor action on the Senate version of the bill (S. 1477) has also been postponed until September, but, given the tight schedule facing lawmakers, the FDA overhaul may not occur until the next Congress. This is good news for AIDS and other patients advocates as the bills contain some very troubling provisions which could affect the safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices.

For more information contact:
Lisa White
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Ave., NW Suite 700
Washington, DC 20009

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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council. It is a part of the publication AIDS Action Weekly Update.