The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Congress adjourned on Sept. 30 without passing a measure to renew the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides funding for the country’s HIV/AIDS programs. Five Senators, including a “handful” from New Jersey and New York, blocked the Senate from considering a House-approved bill that would have changed the CARE Act formula to shift funding from urban to more rural areas with increasing infection rates.
The House had approved the bill by a vote of 325-98 on Sept. 28.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., was one of the leaders in the effort to block the legislation, which would cut her state’s funding by about $100 million.
Clinton argued the way to help those patients is not to take funding away from other states like New York.
“You want to take money away from my 100,000 people living with HIV/AIDS and give it to worthy people in other parts of the county because this administration and this Congress won’t put more money into funding treatment programs for HIV and AIDS,” she said.
In addition to changing the funding formula, the House-passed bill would require that 75 percent of CARE Act funds be used for “core medical services,” which could have resulted in a large decrease in funding for services ranging from food pantries to transportation.
Jennifer Kates, a HIV policy analyst with the Kaiser Family Foundation, said AIDS organizations will see no immediate impact from the failure to pass reauthorization as most federal programs continue to operate under a continuing resolution. Planning in this uncertain environment is the bigger challenge.
ÒRyan White is the safety net, it alone cannot fix the problems,Ó Kates said. “A comprehensive approach must involve strengthening Medicaid coverage and state contributions to HIV programs.”
Bob Roehr contributed to this report.