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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.

 [ send green star]

 
 April 03, 2006 9:34 AM

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.  [ send green star]
 
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