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AIDS Action Weekly Update

September 13, 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.

Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill Marked Up In Senate

The Senate FY 97 Labor-HHS-Education FY 97 appropriations bill (H.R. 3755) was marked up in Subcommittee and full Committee this week. The AIDS programs within this bill received increases above FY 96 funding levels, with some of the increases equal to those received in the House version of the bill. Within the Ryan White CARE Act Titles I, IIIb, IV, the AIDS Education and Training Centers, and the Dental Reimbursement program of Title V received the same increases above FY 96 as they did in the House version of the bill, $10 million, $.5 million, $.5 million, $4.3 million, and $.6 million respectively. Title II of the CARE Act received a $72 million increase above its FY 96 funding level, $42 million more than it received in the House. Although $7 million of this increase is for base Title II programs as in the House version, the remaining $65 million increase is allocated for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). HIV prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) received $5 million above its FY 96 funding level, $10 million less than the House mark. AIDS research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) received $52.5 million above the FY 96 level. Although the House provides more money overall for the NIH than the Senate which would mean $39 million more for AIDS research in the House than the Senate, the Senate version of the bill reinstates the consolidated budget for the Office of AIDS Research (OAR), while the House version did not. Because there are many contentious issues attached to this bill it is not expected to go to the Senate floor. With the end of the fiscal year and the targeted Congressional adjournment date quickly approaching, it is likely that this bill will become part of a continuing resolution (CR), which lawmakers are expected to begin negotiating soon.

Although gratified that our programs were not cut, AIDS advocates have several concerns that they hope will be addressed in a CR. These include increasing funding for HIV prevention programs to the Administration's requested level of $616.5 million ($32.5 million above FY 96); preserving the consolidated budget for the OAR; increasing funding for Titles I, IIIb, IV, and V of the CARE Act to at least the Administration's request ($69.1 million above FY 96); and procuring the $190 million for ADAP necessary to prevent programs across the nation from having to shut down mid-year ($138 million above FY 96).

Conference Negotiations On VA-HUD Begin Next Week

While the conferees selected by the House and Senate do not formally meet until next week, informal negotiations have already started to take place on the FY 97 VA-HUD appropriations bill (H.R. 3666). While AIDS advocates had been frustrated by the Administration's inability to find real offsets in order to get the $25 million increase for FY 97 funding requested by the president for the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program, our persistence has paid off. The Administration has finally identified actual offsets to ensure a FY 97 funding level of $196 million for HOPWA. AIDS advocates must continue to keep the pressure on their members of Congress to support the Administration's revised request for this program. House conferees for the FY 97 VA-HUD appropriations bill are Representatives Lewis (R-CA), DeLay (R-TX), Walsh (R-NY), Hobson (R-OH), Vucanovich (R-NV), Knollenberg (R-MI), Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Neumann (R-WI), Livingston (R-LA), Stokes (D-OH), Mollohan (D-WV), Chapman (D-TX), Kaptur (D-OH), and Obey (D-WI). Senate conferees are Senators Bond (R-MO), Burns (R-MT), Stevens (R-AK), Shelby (R-AL), Bennett (R-UT), Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), Hatfield (R-OR), Mikulski (D-MD), Leahy (D-VT), Johnston (D-LA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Kerrey (D-NE), and Byrd (D-WV).

Senate Passes Defense Authorization Conference Report

Earlier this week the Senate approved the conference report for the FY 97 Department of Defense authorization bill (H.R. 3230). The Dornan provision, which would mandate the immediate discharge of HIV-positive service members, was dropped in conference, as was a provision to repeal the "don't-ask-don't tell" policy regarding gay service members. Also dropped was the Senate language that would have repealed the 1995 prohibition on abortions in overseas military hospitals. The president has stated that he will sign this bill.

ADAP/NORA Congressional Briefing

The ADAP (AIDS Drug Assistance Programs) Working Group and the National Organizations Responding to AIDS (NORA) coalition co-sponsored a Congressional briefing Monday, September 9 to address "The Crisis in State AIDS Drug Assistance Programs." The briefing was chaired by Representatives Gerry Studds (D-MA) and Steve Gunderson (R-WI), and hosted by Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Bill Frist (R-TN), and Representatives Rick Lazio (R-NY) and Maurice Hinchey (D-NY). Speakers included Washington Governor Mike Lowry, world-renowned AIDS researcher David D. Ho, Dr. Charles Farthing of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Public Health Services officials, people living with AIDS, and representatives of the NORA coalition. NORA speakers addressed the drug access issue in the larger context of the need to maintain commitments for AIDS in the areas of prevention, research, care, and housing. Two reports were released at the briefing. The first, compiled by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), details the present status of state ADAP programs and the steps they are taking in response to rapidly increasing demand for new AIDS therapies. The second, created by the ADAP Working Group, provides a detailed utilization forecast for the national ADAP program for FY 97.

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.