What's New in Public Policy?
Excerpts from Hotline Memos of October 2001
from the Information Department of Project Inform
Congress is continuing to debate funding levels for HIV/AIDS programs for Fiscal Year 2002. In early October, the House of Representatives passed its version of the Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS) appropriations bill, which funds HIV/AIDS care, treatment, prevention, and research programs.
As of this writing, the Senate is finishing work on its version of the appropriations bill. If there are differences between the House and Senate versions, a joint House/Senate conference committee will convene to negotiate a final bill. Then, the bill will go to the President for his signature or veto.
The good news is that the House approved over $200 million in increased funding for HIV/AIDS programs and the result was a big improvement over President Bush's proposed budget. However, the increases were far short of what is needed to provide adequate HIV/AIDS care, treatment, and prevention services.
Of particular concern is the lack of adequate funding proposed for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which provides treatments to low-income uninsured and underinsured people living with HIV/AIDS across the country. Many state ADAPs are currently experiencing difficulties meeting the needs of their clients. Last year, Congress appropriated a $61 million increase for ADAP, far less than the $130 million identified by experts as needed to meet growing demand on the program.
The impact of this underfunding is being reported by many states. Nine states have closed enrollment to new clients. By the end of this fiscal year, seven more states may cap enrollment or implement program restrictions. Currently, there are over 600 people on ADAP waiting lists, and that number is expected to increase.
This year, advocates are asking for a $120 million increase for ADAP. However, the House approved an inadequate $60 million increase. Even more alarming is that the Senate is considering only a $21 million increase for this program. If these figures do not improve, we are likely to see very serious problems with people being able to access their treatments through many state ADAPs. While it will be possible to secure an emergency supplemental increase for ADAP in the middle of the Fiscal Year, that can be a difficult process with no guarantees. Advocates are working very hard right now to educate Congress about the need for adequate funding for ADAP and all HIV/AIDS programs. Look for an update on appropriations in the next "What's New?".
Back to the What's New? November 2001 Table of Contents.
This article was provided by Project Inform. It is a part of the publication Hotline Memos. Visit Project Inform's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.