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House Labor/HHS Subcommittee Proposes
Increases in AIDS Care, Prevention Funding

Subcommittee Again Fails to Earmark AIDS Research Funds

June 14, 1996

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. -- AIDS advocates are today turning their attention to protecting key victories achieved early this morning with the passage of a House Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) subcommittee fiscal year 1997 funding bill that includes funding increases for both vital AIDS care and support programs provided through the Ryan White CARE Act and HIV education and prevention programs coordinated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"In this time of partisan battles over how fiscally-conservative one political party is over the other, these funding increases in AIDS care and HIV prevention serve as a testimony to the battles AIDS Action and our national partners have waged to humanize the debate and secure adequate funding levels for programs that directly affect hundreds of thousands of Americans living with HIV/AIDS," said Fred Miller, interim executive director of AIDS Action Council, the nation's leading AIDS advocacy organization.

"However jubilant," added Christine Lubinski, AIDS Action Council's deputy executive director, "we must be mindful that these funding increases by no means fully meet the critical funding needs of communities across the country that are struggling with this epidemic or fighting an uphill battle to curb its spread. While fighting to preserve the increases approved today, we must acknowledge that they only scratch the surface of what is really needed to combat the AIDS epidemic."

AIDS-specific funding increases proposed in the House FY97 Labor/HHS appropriations bill are:

  • $15 million additional funding for CDC HIV prevention programs. This increase raises federal HIV prevention funding from the FY96 level of $584.1 million to $599.1 million in FY97. The Labor/HHS subcommittee's FY97 HIV prevention funding level falls below the Clinton administration's request of $616.5 million. It also falls significantly below the $738.5 million identified by the National Organizations Responding to AIDS (NORA) coalition of which AIDS Action Council is a member as the funding level needed to effectively combat the spread of HIV disease in the next fiscal year.

  • $54.9 million additional funding for the Ryan White CARE Act. This increase raises Ryan White CARE Act funding from its current (FY96) level of $757.3 million to $812.3 million in FY97. The proposed FY97 Ryan White CARE Act funding level falls below the Clinton administration's request for $830.7 million. It also falls significantly short of the $830.7 million identified by NORA as the funding level needed to adequately provide AIDS care services to an ever-growing number of HIV-infected Americans.

The Ryan White CARE Act represents the largest authorization of federal funds specifically designated to provide AIDS health care and social services, including prescription drug purchase assistance, outpatient medical care, home health care, dental care, psychological counseling, and other support services. The $54.9 million increase in Ryan White CARE Act funding represents an increase across all five Ryan White CARE Act titles:

  • Title I provides emergency assistance to areas (cities) that are disproportionately affected by the AIDS epidemic. This title garnered a $10 million FY97 funding increase over the current (FY96) level of $391.7 million.

  • Title II provides grants to states to help improve the quality and availability of existing AIDS health care organizations and HIV/AIDS support services, and funds the state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs), which make AIDS drugs and therapies available to those who cannot afford them. Title II received a $30 million FY97 funding increase over the FY96 level of $260.8 million.

  • Title IIIb, which supports outpatient early intervention HIV services for people living with HIV/AIDS, received a $5 million FY97 funding increase over the FY96 level of $56.9 million.

  • Title IV, which provides pediatric, adolescent and family comprehensive HIV care programs, garnered a $5 million FY97 funding increase over the FY96 level of $29 million.

  • Title V funds both the AIDS Dental Reimbursement program and the AIDS Education and Training Centers (AETC) program. The dental reimbursement program received a $0.6 million FY97 funding increase over the FY96 level of $6.9 million. The AETC program, which provides critical AIDS care education to AIDS health care providers, received a $4.3 million FY97 funding increase over the FY96 level of $12 million.

House Subcommittee Denies OAR Budget Authority

While AIDS advocates are celebrating their success in securing funding increases for AIDS care and prevention programs, they are expressing outrage that while the House Labor/HHS subcommittee has proposed a 6.5 percent funding increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), not one dime of the proposed $1.5 billion NIH research funding is earmarked for AIDS research.

For the second consecutive year, the GOP congressional leadership has eliminated the consolidated budget authority over AIDS research at the NIH's Office of AIDS Research (OAR). The OAR was created by Congress in 1988 with the express mission to plan, coordinate and determine the budget for all AIDS research at the NIH's 24 institutes, centers and divisions. The OAR's budget authority was eliminated last year and, subsequently, the OAR's ability to effectively coordinate the NIH's AIDS research was severely curtailed. AIDS advocates fear that without a strong OAR with a consolidated budget authority over AIDS research dollars, there is the risk that AIDS research efforts which have yielded scientific breakthroughs in the understanding of HIV disease will be in jeopardy.

"What we require from this Congress is its unequivocal support for a strong OAR with the authority to develop and implement a strategic plan for AIDS research," said Lubinski. "The OAR's success in developing and implementing a strategic plan, however, requires that the OAR have complete authority to direct all the NIH's AIDS resources to develop effective therapies and work ultimately towards a cure. That is not possible under the GOP leadership's research agenda."

Founded in 1984, AIDS Action Council is the only national organization devoted solely to advocating on federal AIDS policy, legislation and funding. AIDS Action Council represents more than 1,400 community-based AIDS service organizations throughout the United States.

José Zuniga
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Avenue NW #700
Washington DC 20009
202-986-1300, Ext. 3042
202-986-1345 (fax)
202-332-9614 (tty)

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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.