What's New in Public Policy?
Excerpts from Hotline Memos of January and February 2002
from the Information Department of Project Inform
In early February, President Bush released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2003, which begins on October 1 of this year. Included in this proposal are his suggested funding levels for domestic and international HIV/AIDS programs.
This budget proposal is extremely troubling and demonstrates that the Bush Administration does not consider HIV/AIDS to be a priority. For the second year in a row, the President is calling for no increase for HIV/AIDS care and treatment programs funded through Ryan White CARE Act and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). With the growing number of people living with HIV and increased cost of healthcare and treatment, this budget request is really a cut in funding. In addition, care and treatment services received very inadequate increases in the final budget for the current fiscal year. Many ADAPs across the country are already experiencing financial difficulties and one more year of inadequate funding will likely cause major limitations in treatment access.
The President's proposed budget also calls for no increase in spending for HIV prevention programs and the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative, which funds prevention, care, and treatment services targeted to communities of color. It asks for a modest (but not sufficient) increase for housing services funded through the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) program and a significant increase in funding for AIDS research programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
On the international front, President Bush is asking for a $200 million contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. This is the same amount pledged by the U.S. last year and falls far short of the $7-10 billion identified as needed each year to fight the global pandemic.
Fortunately, President Bush's proposed budget is just that -- a proposal. Focus now shifts to Congress, which will determine its own spending levels for these programs. In the next few months, subcommittees in the House of Representatives and the Senate will hear public testimony about the importance of adequate funding for HIV/AIDS programs. They will then create their own budget proposal which will be reviewed and voted on by the full House and Senate. If there are differences between the House and Senate versions, a joint House/Senate conference committee will convene to negotiate a final budget.
It will take a strong grassroots campaign to ensure that these funding levels are increased by Congress. We must let our members of Congress know that President Bush's budget for HIV/AIDS programs is unacceptable. Everyone living with or affected by HIV/AIDS should plan to be a part of this effort. If all of us took a few minutes in the next few months to write a short note to our federal representatives urging them to take a leadership role in the fight for adequate funding, it would make a huge difference.
Project Inform will be sending alerts and updates to Treatment Action Network members as the budget process gets underway. If you would like to be part of this effort, you can join TAN by sending an e-mail to email@example.com or through on the Web.
The dates for AIDSWATCH, the national constituent HIV/AIDS lobby days in Washington, D.C. were recently announced. The event will be held from June 9-11, 2002.
This lobbying event is organized by the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA), with help from national and local partners, including Project Inform. The purpose of AIDSWATCH is to provide an opportunity for those most affected by HIV/AIDS to speak directly with their elected representatives about the need for adequate funding. Since the President's proposed budget for HIV/AIDS programs is so troubling, this year's AIDSWATCH is perhaps more important than ever. Members of Congress need to be reminded by their constituents that AIDS must continue to be a top priority.
AIDSWATCH is a three-day event. The first day consists of a briefing on key HIV/AIDS issues and training on how to have an effective legislative visit. The next two days are spent meeting with members of Congress and/or their staff. You do not need to be an expert on lobbying or the issues to attend AIDSWATCH. You bring your personal stories so that our representatives can understand better how their efforts in securing adequate funding will help those they represent.
For more information about AIDSWATCH, go to NAPWA's Web site at www.napwa.org or call Antigone Hodgins at 202-898-0414.
Back to the What's New? March 2002 Table of Contents.
This article was provided by Project Inform. It is a part of the publication What's New. Visit Project Inform's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.