10.09.07

ENZI DENOUNCES HOUSE DEMOCRAT LEADERSHIP FOR USING HIDDEN PROVISION TO ROB DISADVANTAGED AMERICANS OF CRITICALLY NEEDED HIV/AIDS FUNDING

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Ranking Member ofthe Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today blew thewhistle on House Democrat Leadership for using a hidden provision in an appropriationsbill to undermine the Ryan White CARE Act reauthorization passed last year, whichwould ensure more equitable distribution of funds to combat HIV/AIDS in areas of theUnited States where the disease is growing most. “House Democrat Leadership has craftily and quietly snuck a provision into anappropriations bill that would rob disadvantaged individuals, living in underserved areasof the country, of money they desperately need for HIV/AIDS treatment,” Enzi said.“This shameful action goes against the very core of the mission of the Ryan Whitereauthorization passed last year, which revised critically flawed funding formulas toensure that federal dollars are used to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic of today, notyesterday.” A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report recently released confirmedthat a provision added by House Democrat Leadership to the House appropriations billfor the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, H.R. 3043,would take away $9.3 million dollars from areas of the country that have beenunderserved by Ryan White for years, and give it to areas that have been receiving farmore than their fair share of federal dollars. For example, San Francisco, which has adeclining HIV/AIDS population, would rob the neediest cities of lifesaving funding.House Democrat Leadership would earmark $6.1 million for San Francisco. “Because of flawed funding formulas previously in Ryan White, there are peoplein rural and Southern areas – where the HIV/AIDs epidemic is spreading most rapidly –who are dying while on waiting lists to get the treatment they need,” Enzi said. “Thereauthorization bill we passed prevents that. Yet Speaker Pelosi and House Leadershipare more concerned with funneling even more money into San Francisco than with savinglives in places where people are dying to get that money.” Senator Enzi and others who were instrumental in passing last year’s Ryan Whitereauthorization bill today wrote a letter to Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senator ArlenSpecter (R-PA), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate AppropriationsSubcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies,asking them to oppose inclusion of this provision in the Senate bill. “If this provision is allowed to stand, AIDS healthcare disparities will continue,”the Senators wrote. “Outdated funding formulas that have disadvantaged minoritypopulations in the Southeast for years will continue. These outdated formulas havecaused fatalities in parts of the nation where people are on waiting lists for life savingdrugs while older centers of the epidemic are unable to spend all the funding they receivefor HIV/AIDS care.” The RWCA reauthorization bill signed into law last year saves lives by increasingoverall investment in Ryan White programs and revising flawed funding formulas, whichcurrently favor states with urban areas and a longer history of AIDS infections over stateswhere the disease is now spreading most rampantly. It better targets funding so thatinfected persons have better access to high quality health care, improve accountability forhealth outcomes, and ensure more equitable treatment opportunities for all persons withHIV/AIDS. The House Leadership rider guts the fair funding formulas that save lives. ####

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