February 16, 2011
First, let me start with the ADAP Advocay Association's 2010 Congressional Scorecard. Released on February 7, it evaluates members of Congress on their support for the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs). "Despite ADAPs enjoying strong bipartisan support, partisan gridlock led to total inaction in the U.S. Congress, resulting in thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS being denied care," the press release stated.
The Congressional Scorecard ranked the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate on numerous items, including floor votes on appropriations and other bills directly impacting ADAPs, co-sponsors on pending legislation improving ADAPs and whether HIV/AIDS was even mentioned on their official websites. The scorecard issued one of four grades: Fail, Pass, Pass with Honors or Pass with Excellence. Unfortunately, every Member of Congress received a "Fail" grade since the Congress failed to approve emergency supplemental funding to shore-up the cash-strapped ADAPs, or pass any legislation to alleviate the crisis.
"It is unfortunate that we decided to issue a failing grade for the entire U.S. Congress, because there are many leaders who deserve our thanks and recognition -- including Representatives Barbara Lee and Dr. Donna Christensen in the House and Senators Richard Burr and Dr. Tom Coburn in the Senate for their respective efforts," said William Arnold, aaa+ board president and Executive Director of the Community Access National Network. "This decision was not taken lightly to fail the entire Congress, but we ultimately decided that every member of Congress needed to be put on notice that enough is enough and it is time to end the ADAP waiting lists in ten states."
The question remains, however, how many of our Congressional officials will even care that they received a failing grade? How many know how many HIV-positive constituents, or those who care about them, they even have, let alone how many are on ADAP waiting lists? You know what I'm going to say next -- call, write, or email and let them know you're out here. And if your elected officials got a good grade, let them know you appreciate their awareness and support.
The Congressional Scorecard is available online at www.adapadvocacyassociation.org/reportcard.html.