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Tennessee AIDS
groups call for reauthorization of Ryan White Act

Tennessee AIDS
groups call for reauthorization of Ryan White Act

Community leaders in central Tennessee are urging Congress to renew the Ryan White CARE Act, which they say is crucial to providing care and treatment for HIV-positive people who have been trimmed from the rolls of the state's troubled TennCare program. State and local health officials joined area health care providers, service agencies, and HIV-positive people at a December 1 town hall meeting hosted by the Ryan White ACTION Campaign and more than a dozen community organizations.

"In the wake of TennCare's recent retrenchment, Ryan White providers in Tennessee are grappling to ensure that people with HIV/AIDS can continue to receive the care and services they need to survive and thrive," said Drema Mace, CEO of Nashville's Comprehensive Care Center. "Without the Ryan White CARE Act, we will effectively have no safety net for people who could not otherwise afford care and treatment."

The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency Act, which provides care and treatment for more than half a million uninsured and underinsured HIV-positive people across the country, expired on September 30. Congress has not yet introduced a bill to renew it.

TennCare, Tennessee's health plan for poor, disabled, and elderly people, has been restructured in a way that has left nearly 200,000 Tennesseans without access, including 1,200 HIV-positive people. A reauthorized and adequately funded Ryan White CARE Act could hold the promise for additional resources to fill in the gaps left by the frayed safety net that TennCare has become, say state AIDS experts.

"Without the help provided by the Ryan White CARE Act, these people simply cannot afford the care and treatment they need to survive and live normal productive lives," Stephen Raffanti, chief medical officer at the Comprehensive Care Center of Nashville, said of the HIV-positive people cut from TennCare. (

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