AIDS Action Statement on Introduction of CARE Act Reauthorization Bill
February 28, 2006
Earlier today Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) introduced legislation to reauthorize the Ryan White CARE Act in the Senate. Representative Dave Weldon (R-FL) has agreed to introduce the same bill in the House.
The newly introduced bill restricts 75% of all CARE Act spending to tightly defined "primary medical services" and specifically states that case management for non-medical services and transitional housing may not be included in the definition of primary medical services. AIDS Action is concerned that such restrictions on funding will limit the ability of local communities to direct resources to services required by people living with HIV. Best practices in HIV care have demonstrated that the provision of housing, case management, nutrition, transportation and other services is critical to maintaining the health and well being of people living with HIV and AIDS.
In addition, the bill seeks to eliminate the "80/20" funding provision in Title II of the CARE Act which designates funding for state HIV and AIDS treatment and care. The 80/20 provision provides a formula for counting residents of urban areas eligible for Title I funds at a rate of 80% of non-eligible residents. Although Senator Coburn's bill would create a "hold harmless" provision that would slow the elimination of 80/20 to 5% per year, AIDS Action has opposed elimination of the 80/20 allocation in "AIDS Action's Recommendations to Create an Effective, Efficient and Equitable Ryan White CARE Act."
The newly introduced bill also calls for an increase of as much as $525 million for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) over five years. AIDS Action's own recommendations, "Streamlining and Modernizing the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) of the Ryan White CARE Act," calls for an increase of $720 million in the first fiscal year following reauthorization with annual increases of $100 million thereafter. "It is significant that Senator Coburn who has long urged Congress to reduce spending on many federal programs has recognized that the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) requires new funds to ensure that thousands of people living with HIV will be able to access life-saving medications," said Ronald Johnson, co-chair of the AIDS Action Public Policy Committee.
AIDS Action has long called for the reauthorization of the CARE Act which expired on September 30th, 2005. As a member of the Ryan White Legislative Group, AIDS Action has also signed on to a comprehensive set of recommendations which has been provided to the committees of jurisdiction and other interested members. "AIDS Action is planning to thoroughly review the legislation and will submit comments to Senator Coburn and Representative Weldon and to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee which are the committees of jurisdiction," said political director, William McColl. "We will continue to offer constructive ideas to the committees of jurisdiction and all Members of Congress who are interested in ensuring an effective, efficient and equitable reauthorization for all people living with HIV throughout the United States."
American Academy of HIV Medicine Encouraged by Senator Tom Coburn's (R-OK) Introduction of The Ryan White CARE Act Amendments of 2006
This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.