AHF Decries Loss of $100M in Unspent Ryan White Funding April 01, 2006 10:39 PM
Today's Deadline Requires Unspent CARE Act Funds Be Returned to Feds, While AIDS Services Are Cut Back Nationwide; Nation's Largest AIDS Group Calls for Swift Reauthorization and Reform of CARE Act to Address Inefficiencies
LOS ANGELES, March 31 /PRNewswire/ -- AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) the largest US-based AIDS organization today decried the loss of $100 million in unspent Ryan White CARE Act (RWCA) funds which are set to revert back to the Treasury today. The CARE Act, which is the premier federal funding source for HIV/AIDS treatment and services nationwide and a lifeline for more than half a million Americans, is reauthorized every five years; however the bill expired in September 2005 when Congress failed to take action on it. March 31st, a full six months after the CARE Act's expiration, triggers the mandatory return to the federal government of nearly $100 million in unspent CARE Act funds by states and eligible metropolitan areas (EMA) nationwide. This development comes at a time when AIDS advocates are alarmed that lifesaving HIV/AIDS services are being cut due to lack of funds in jurisdictions across the country. AHF is calling for the swift reauthorization and reform of the Ryan White CARE Act to ensure the most efficient use of scarce CARE Act resources. AHF believes the bill must be updated in order to make the current law more responsive to the needs of underserved and emerging HIV/AIDS populations; it must also place a higher priority on funding primary medical care for the now chronic, but treatable medical condition. Last month, the 'Ryan White CARE Act Amendments of 2006' (SB 2339 -- Coburn/Weldon) was introduced to bring about this much-needed reform. It was recently co-sponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R, NC), who sits on the Senate HELP Committee and whose state has been forced to implement waiting lists for its AIDS Drug Assistance Program. AHF strongly urges Congress to pass this urgently needed legislation. "It's utterly criminal for funds to go unspent while CARE Act programs nationwide continue to be under-funded and people languish on waiting lists for lifesaving treatment," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "This clearly illustrates the need to restructure the Act to allow for a more flexible and equitable distribution of funding, ensuring that resources reach those most in need." According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the federal agency responsible for administering the CARE Act, $100 million of CARE Act funds went unspent and an astounding $80 million was spent on "planning and evaluation" during a recent two year period. While precious resources continue to be spent on layers of bureaucracy, CARE Act programs are being cut back across the country. In fact, 33 of 51 jurisdictions received cuts to their 2006-2007 CARE Act funding and many of those are being forced to cut direct patient services as a result. Both Los Angeles and Jacksonville, Florida -- two regions where AHF provides care and services -- will see significant RWCA Title I cuts; LA is facing a $1.9 million cut, which represents a 5.3% decrease in funding, while Jacksonville faces a 2.2% funding decrease. In some cases, these cuts to patient services are occurring in states that are now returning unspent funds. "A number of patients on the waiting list for Kentucky's AIDS Drug Assistance Program -- funded by the CARE Act -- passed away despite the fact that the state had hundreds of thousands of dollars in unspent CARE Act funds. For anyone to lack access to lifesaving treatment in our resource-rich country simply due to such an antiquated funding mechanism is truly a national embarrassment," added Weinstein.
Yea Barb, up here in the metropolitan area they have already started cutting services to patients for housing and transportation to and from doctors and hospital visits, medications, its bad.
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