April 18, 2013

April 18, 2013
President Obama's Budget Maintains Strong
Commitment to Domestic HIV/AIDS Programs

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Thursday and I hope you are having a beary safe and great week so far. It is another busy week for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

The budget President Obama outlined today yet again demonstrates his strong commitment to ending HIV by increasing funding for prevention and lifesaving care and treatment for those who cannot afford it in the United States. President Obama and his Administration recognize the importance of the federal government's role in addressing infectious diseases, such as HIV, and the need to provide care and treatment to people with HIV/AIDS to keep them healthy and reduce new infections. We now urge Congress to show the same level of support as it considers federal spending priorities for the upcoming year.

Under the President's budget, funding for the Ryan White AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) would increase by nearly $47 million over FY13 appropriated levels for a total of $943 million. In recent years, states have struggled to keep up with the growing number of low-income people needing lifesaving AIDS medications, and have had to establish waiting lists. Due to increased funding, including an emergency transfer of $35 million announced by President Obama on World AIDS Day, 2011, waitlists have been dramatically reduced. Unfortunately, the final FY13 appropriation bill recently passed by the Congress does not include the continuation of that ADAP funding nor an additional $10 million for medical care. Without that funding an estimated 8,000 people currently on ADAP could lose access to their medications this year.

Dab the AIDS Bear Project and others are calling on the President to immediately transfer the funding again to ensure these people will not lose their ADAP coverage and access to medical care. The FY14 proposed budget continues this funding for ADAP and increases it by $10 million.

The President's FY14 budget demonstrates continued commitment to the entire Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which provides medical care, drug treatment and support services to approximately 546,000 low-income, uninsured and underinsured individuals living with HIV. The President's FY14 budget request for the Program is $2.4 billion.

In order to help achieve the goal of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy to reduce the number of new HIV infections, which now stands at over 50,000 per year, the President is proposing to increase HIV funding at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by $13 million. The CDC is using its limited dollars to implement to a new community high-impact prevention initiative to improve systems that link persons recently diagnosed with HIV to care.

Additionally, the budget proposes $10 million to assist public health agencies to seek reimbursement from insurance companies for infectious disease testing covered under the Affordable Care Act. Just last week, Dab the AIDS Bear Project and 63 other organizations sent a letter to CDC Director Tom Frieden urging the CDC to provide technical assistance to grantees and providers on how to bill for HIV testing, which will be covered by most payers through health reform.

Under the President's proposed budget, medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would receive an increase while the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program at HUD, which provides housing for low-income people with AIDS, would be level-funded at $332 million.

Funding for Hepatitis Prevention at the CDC would receive a small increase for a total of $31 million.

The President has put forth a budget that replaces the harmful sequestration and attempts to break the partisan gridlock in Washington. While not perfect, it upholds his commitment to making progress to ending AIDS by investing in domestic HIV/AIDS programs. Now it is up to the Congress, which has already passed two differing budgets. We hope that all parties soon can come to an agreement that will end the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the federal budget and in the process, adequately fund critical public health programs, including those that prevent HIV and provide for care and treat for people living with HIV.

Thanks to everyone who called and emailed the President and your elected officials in Washington, DC. It is because of you that we are able to continue helping people living with HIV and AIDS.

Wishing you a beary safe and great Thursday!

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

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab