10.23.07

ENZI OFFERS AMENDMENT TO ENSURE FAIR DISTRIBUTION 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 offered anamendment to ensure that no appropriations bill can be used to overturn the bipartisan,bicameral agreement on the Ryan White CARE Act reauthorization passed last year, andcheat communities in the South and rural America out of new funds they desperatelyneed to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. “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 end run goes against the very core of the mission of the Ryan White reauthorizationpassed last year, which revised critically flawed funding formulas to ensure that federaldollars are used to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic of today, not yesterday.” “Where I come from, that’s called cheating. San Francisco is already receivingRyan White money for people who have died. To take an additional $6 million awayfrom states that desperately need that money in order to give even more to San Franciscois reprehensible. This is an earmark of the worst class, and I hope to make clear that it isunacceptable in this body.” 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.The GAO report also confirmed that San Francisco receives funding under RyanWhite for people who have died. “I am pleased that the Senate did not include this egregious provision, and I hopetoday that the Senate will go on record opposing any provision that would undo all of thegood work we did on Ryan White, and would put lives in jeopardy,” Enzi said.“There are people in rural and Southern areas – where the HIV/AIDS epidemic isspreading most rapidly – who are dying while on waiting lists to get the treatment theyneed. The reauthorization bill we passed prevents that. Yet Speaker Pelosi and HouseLeadership are more concerned with funneling even more money into San Francisco thanwith saving lives in places where people are dying to get that money.” 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.The GAO report, GAO-08-137R, is available athttp://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08137r.pdf. ####

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