FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 5, 2006
NJ, NY Senators Release Hold On Ryan White Act
Lawmakers: Final Bill Still Flawed, Millions In ‘Draconian’ Cuts Eliminated
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) today released their respective holds on the Ryan White CARE Act, following vigorous negotiations with both Republican and Democratic colleagues that will save New Jersey and New York from millions in proposed cuts. The final version of the Act reauthorization still includes a one-time reduction in overall funding for New York and New Jersey, but eliminates the tens of millions more in proposed cuts that would decimate the ability of New York and New Jersey to serve people living with HIV and AIDS.
The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act is the federal law that addresses the unmet health needs of persons living with HIV disease by funding primary health care and support services that enhance access to care.
Earlier versions of this year’s reauthorization threatened drastic cuts of over $100 million for both New Jersey and New York– a prospect unacceptable to lawmakers from both the Garden State and the Empire State. These cuts would have limited access to critical services for people living with HIV and AIDS, such as primary health care, support services, and medication assistance programs. The four senators placed a hold on the reauthorization bill, using a parliamentary privilege afforded to U.S. Senators that prevented the bill’s consideration by the full Senate. Their holds were released today.
“Over the past year, I have been working with my colleagues to reauthorize this important piece of legislation and have been forced time and time again to oppose reauthorization proposals because of their devastating impact on New York, the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I am proud that we have forged a three-year compromise that contains essential protections for New York and other hard-hit states. We have come a long way from the original proposals to decimate and devastate our systems of care in New York and other parts of the country. However, much work needs to be done going forward. This bill alone cannot make up for years of flat-funding for programs that provide essential care and support services across the nation. I look forward to working with my colleagues over the coming years to improve the ability of this act to meet the needs of all people living with HIV and AIDS,” said Senator Clinton.
“Every man, woman and child living with HIV/AIDS deserves the best treatment we can give them—and that’s what our fight over the distribution of funding has been about. Instead of leaving those New Jerseyans without the care and resources they need, we’ve restored millions in proposed funding cuts,” Senator Lautenberg said. “I look forward to working closely with Senator Kennedy to make further improvements to the Ryan White law in January.”
“While this final bill is not everything we would have liked to achieve, it is a far cry from where the original proposals began,” Senator Menendez said. “This compromise bill preserves New Jersey’s Eligible Metropolitan Areas, sets a funding floor for formula grants and holds the Bush administration accountable for how supplemental EMA funds are spent. Moreover, New Jersey lawmakers have elicited commitments from Senator Ted Kennedy that our state will have a seat at the table in ensuring our state’s interests moving forward.”
“We are happy to reach a compromise that staves off millions of dollars in cuts, but realize that work remains to be done,” said Senator Schumer. “We need to continue to fight for additional money for the Ryan White CARE Act so the funding corresponds to need, and so that New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS receive the care and services they deserve. We also need to re-visit the entire structure of the CARE Act to better serve the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS in the future.”
First enacted by Congress in 1990, the Ryan White CARE Act was amended and reauthorized in 1996 and again in 2000. The bill reaches over 500,000 individuals each year, making it the federal government's largest program specifically for people living with HIV and AIDS. The CARE Act was named for Ryan White, an Indiana teenager whose courageous struggle with HIV/AIDS and against AIDS-related discrimination helped educate the nation.