September 30, 2009

September 30, 2009
Ryan White Funding

Thanks for stopping by for another entry about my life. I know it has been awhile since I have done a blog entry but I have literally not stop moving in a couple of weeks.

I have been traveling from city to city doing public relations and helping with events all around the country. It has been such a great time getting to know new people, making very special new friends and hearing people's stories. Some about living with HIV and AIDS, stories of those who have lost their battles and stories from family members and loved ones. I have been touched by each and every story and am so grateful for people feeling comfortable enough to share them with me. I am so flattered and grateful.

Today you will see featured our new logo for our Teddy Bear Touchdowns. The graphics have been done by John Richard Allen of HIVogue fame. John has bent over backwards helping come up with our new logo and deserves a huge round of thanks.

I would also like to thank Mark Foley for coming to very quick assistance getting a logo ready for a last minute deadline. Mark did great and fast turnaround helping us in a pinch. So here's a big bear hug to you bud.

Today was the sunset date for Ryan White funding. Many activists including yours truly have been working to get the funding extended.

Good news. Today the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Chaired by Tom Harkin (D-IA), for passing the “Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009.” The bill would extend for four years the Ryan White Program, which provides lifesaving and life-extending health care, medications and support services to over 530,000 low-income people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. The bill passed the Committee unanimously.

We congratulate Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Michael Enzi (R-WY), and their counterparts in the House of Representatives for crafting a bill in a bipartisan and bicameral fashion that can quickly pass the Congress and signed by the President.

Tomorrow find the new version of the Senate bill passed with Unanimous Consent (UC) by the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee during the markup this morning. The Senators in attendance were: Chair: Harkin (D-IA), Ranking Member: Enzi (R-WY), Bennett (D-CO), Brown (D-OH), Burr (R-NC), Casey (D-PA), Coburn (R-OK), Dodd (D-CT), Hagan (D-NC), Merkley (D-OR), Mikulski (D-MD), Murray (D-WA), Reed (D-RI) . The meeting was Senator Tom Harkin’s first meeting as the chair of the committee following the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA). It was also Senator Bennett’s first meeting as a member of the committee. There were supportive comments about the bill from Senators Harkin, Enzi, Dodd, Coburn, Mikulski and Burr. Most of the comments referenced the bipartisan nature of the bill and a number noted Senator Kennedy and Senator Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) roll in creating the act in 1990. Senator Mikulski specifically recalled the first hearing of the committee on the bill with Ryan White present to testify.

The next step on the Senate side is for the bill to go to the floor. The new draft of the bill was just sent out and is attached. Senate staff said that they had not made major changes to the bill since the release of the first draft but that a few technical changes had been worked out. Staff also said that they are reviewing all of the comments that they received from the community and would work with the Republican side and the House to make technical changes. I’m not really certain of the timing, but the Senate side would like to move quickly, maybe in the next one or two weeks.

In the meantime, the Senate is expected to bring up a Continuing Resolution at around 4:30 p.m. today. Assuming it passes, it will allow the government to continue operations and it will also continue the Ryan White CARE Act as it was in effect in FY 2009. The House passed the Continuing Resolution on Friday. The bill in essence moves the CARE Act sunset until Oct 31, 2009 which sets a new deadline for the CARE Act to be reauthorized. We will stay in touch as we learn what the next steps will be.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab