AIDS Action Weekly Update
March 14, 1997
Coburn Bill Introduced
Rep. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) recently introduced, with 71 co-sponsors, the "HIV Prevention Act of 1997." AIDS advocates were quick to denounce Rep. Coburn's bill as a false attempt at HIV prevention. The bill, supported by the American Medical Association (AMA), primarily proposes numerous testing provisions. Among them are mandatory partner notification, which is already in place in many states, a new provision mandating a national system of partner notification, and HIV reporting. The Coburn bill would also seek to "protect" medical professionals from contracting HIV by allowing them to refuse treatment to patients who have not been tested for HIV. Advocates instead point to the need for medical professionals to talk to their patients about HIV, counseling them about risk reduction, and encouraging patients to be tested voluntarily. Additionally, the bill would impose new requirements regarding the testing of alleged sex offenders. These requirements fail to give the victim adequate decision making powers and confidentiality protections.
In order to force states to comply with the bill, Coburn proposes withholding federal Medicaid funds from states that do not implement of the bill's provisions. These federal resources, when pooled with state Medicaid funding, finance basic health care services for approximately 37 million Americans, including 53 percent of adults and 90 percent of children living with HIV.
Opponents of the bill are calling on Congress to recognize Coburn's HIV Prevention Act as a "one size fits all" solution from Washington that merely ties the hands of states and communities trying to respond to the specific local needs posed by the HIV epidemic. AIDS advocates should contact their representatives in the House and urge them not to sign on to the Coburn HIV Prevention Act.
House Passes Resolution Requesting Another Clinton Budget
In the continuing debate over a balanced budget between congressional Republicans and the President, the House passed H.J. Res. 89 requesting that President Clinton submit a proposal that would project a balanced federal budget in fiscal 2002 according to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates. Republicans insist that this measure would not have been necessary if the President had kept campaign promises to balance the budget and use CBO numbers. Democrats countered that the measure (H.J. Res 89) was a waste of time and criticized Republicans for not passing a budget resolution of their own. H.J. Res. 89 is non-binding and is not likely to be taken up by the Senate.
Now in its sixth year, AIDSWatch '97, the country's largest grassroots activist event in Washington D.C., will bring hundreds of service providers, and people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS to lobby Congress. The focus this year will be on appropriations for treatment, care, research, housing, and prevention. As always, participants will receive training to improve their personal advocacy skills and increase their knowledge of HIV/AIDS issues. AIDSWatch also provides an excellent forum to create links with other advocates from across the country. Please join us in Washington D.C. April 13-15, for AIDSWatch '97. For more information e-mail: Aidswtch97@aol.com or visit the web link as http://www.the cure.org. Or call at (202) 898-0414.
House Oversight Hearing Into Dornan-Sanchez Race
The House has set up an oversight hearing by the House Government Affairs committee in response to allegations by former Rep. Robert Dornan (R-CA) that the race between he and his successor, Rep. Lorreta Sanchez (D-CA), should be annulled due to voter fraud and a new election be held. Dornan claims that there are over 700 voters who were "suspect" because of their citizenship status at the time of the election. Sanchez defeated Dornan by 984 votes and the election was certified by state election officials in December 1996. A field hearing in the 46th District will take place on April 19, 1997, by a three member task force, Republicans Vernon Ehlers (MI) and Robert Ney (OH), and Democrat Steny Hoyer. The California secretary of State and Orange County district attorney's offices are also conducting investigations.
This article was provided by AIDS Action Council. It is a part of the publication AIDS Action Weekly Update.