September 17, 2009
At a recent House Subcommittee on Health hearing, Democratic and Republican members said they support reauthorizing the Ryan White CARE Act beyond its Sept. 30 expiration, though details still need to be negotiated. Under the draft version, Ryan White funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and care services would be extended for three years.
However, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) expressed concern about the program's cost as envisioned in the draft. A mark-up hearing is scheduled for Sept. 21, at which time Burgess said he might offer an amendment to cut language that allows limited increases in program funds "as are necessary."
"If introduced during mark-up, we will strenuously oppose any amendment to flat-fund this critical life-saving program," said Jose Zuniga, president of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care.
The reauthorization of Ryan White is being negotiated even as Congress debates the larger question of national health care reform. Ronald Johnson, deputy director of AIDS Action, and Carl Schmid, an AIDS Institute official, pointed out that the sweeping changes under consideration would take time to become operational. It would take at least three years to determine how HIV/AIDS patient care would be affected by the proposed reforms, they said.
The Ryan White draft retains the "hold harmless" provision that limits reductions in states' allocations based on surveillance data during a transitional period.
09.11.2009; Lou Chibbaro, Jr.