FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 1, 2006
Schumer Reveals: Change In Aids Funding Bill Slashes More Than $79 Million From New York’s Fight Against HIV/AIDS
New funding formula in CARE Act unjustly punishes New York State for accurately reporting HIV/AIDS cases and effectively treating patients; New York HIV/AIDS patients to lose critical prevention and treatment services
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler vowed today to fight a new funding formula in the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act – the bill that authorizes federal money for cities and states to provide health care services for HIV and AIDS patients - which unjustly slashes at least $79 million in federal funding over the next three years for New York State’s HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs. While New York State accounts for the highest percentage of HIV/AIDS patients in the country, a funding flaw in the reauthorization of the CARE act will redirect funding from New York State to states with fewer HIV/AIDS cases.
“This new funding formula defies every iota of reason. Why should New York State, which has the highest percentage of AIDS and HIV patients in the country, be stripped of its funding that goes to crucial treatment and prevention programs,” Schumer asked. “Plain and simple, this new formula punishes us for effectively utilizing money allocated by the original CARE act. We’ve reduced the number of HIV patients who eventually develop AIDS but we still have many patients to treat.”
“The Administration's idea of creative solutions is to cut resources where the need is greatest,” said Nadler. “Health professionals in New York have their hands full caring for the highest concentration of HIV and AIDS patients in the country, yet we're told that, because of their good work, the funding supporting them will now be redirected elsewhere. How is that justifiable? Senator Schumer and I will be working with the congressional delegation to stop this insanity."
New York State bears a disproportionate share of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. With just 7 percent of the US population, it has 17 percent of all persons living with AIDS. As of December 2004, almost 110,000 New Yorkers were living with HIV/AIDS, with approximately 6,000 new HIV diagnoses each year. In 2004, New York State reported more new AIDS cases and more new HIV cases than in any other state. More that 75 percent of New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS are persons of color.
New York State is set to lose crucial money in part because of a new funding formula in the reauthorization bill. Previously, CARE Act funding was based only on living AIDS cases, but the current formula in this reauthorization includes both HIV and AIDS cases. New York has diligently tracked its HIV cases and has determined that it has 0.56 HIV case for every one AIDS case. Because some states do not have data as accurate as New York’s, in the funding formula these states are given the benefit of the doubt, and given a much higher estimate of HIV cases - 0.9 HIV patients for every one AIDS case. This means that for every 100 AIDS patients in New York, New York will receive funding for 156 HIV and AIDS patients. In a handful of other states, for every 100 AIDS patients the state will receive funding for 190 HIV and AIDS patients. This leads to New York being punished for its own good work, giving it less money for having correctly implemented a new data tracking system and for having strong HIV prevention programs keep new HIV diagnoses lower than other jurisdictions. This one change alone will result in a transfer of $79 million over the next three years from New York to other states.
The reauthorization of the CARE Act could diminish the positive force of the CARE Act and deplete resources available for New York’s HIV and AIDS patients. A decrease in funding would likely reduce the State’s ability to provide accessible and quality health care and supportive services for HIV and AIDS patients. In addition, likely reductions in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) funding would result in either fewer drugs provided to patients, more costs incurred by patients, or a greater burden borne by New York State. ADAP not only covers anti-retrovirals that treat the virus directly, but also other drugs that are vital to treat other symptoms of AIDS patients such as insulin for diabetics , nutritional support products, and hematology drugs.
“Unless this ridiculous formula for distributing AIDS and HIV funding is reversed, patients who have come to rely on important treatment and prevention services will see a dramatic decrease and even elimination of these critical services such as housing, mental health, transportation, and nutrition and meal assistance,” said Schumer.
The Ryan White CARE Act was originally signed into law in 1990, and since 1991 has made federal funding available to both cities and states to provide a number of health care services for HIV and AIDS patients including medical care, drug treatments, dental care, home health care, and outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment. The CARE Act has played a leading role in improving the health and quality of life for New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS. HIV and AIDS patients in New York State rely on Ryan White CARE Act funds to support ADAP, home care programs, the extension of primary care services to the uninsured and community-based case management and supportive services programs.