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lawmakers oppose Ryan White changes

lawmakers oppose Ryan White changes

At last week's meeting of the House energy and commerce subcommittee on health, lawmakers from California, New York, and New Jersey denounced proposed changes to Ryan White CARE Act funding. The proposals are intended to more equitably distribute $2 billion per year in federal HIV funds, but in effect would shift funding from Western and Northeastern states to the South.

Some Ryan White funding formulas disproportionately help states with urban areas by double-counting AIDS patients in metropolitan and state figures, according to Government Accountability Office investigators. A formula that accounts for AIDS deaths vastly benefits San Francisco, giving it an additional $7 million annually. The White House wants to halt both practices. But the federal Department of Health and Human Services' administrator of health resources and services, Elizabeth Duke, could provide few details on that proposal.

"The money needs to follow the infection," said Rep. Charlie Norwood, a Georgia Republican and a member of the subcommittee, which is negotiating with the Senate health committee to find a compromise bill reauthorizing the Ryan White Act.

At the hearing, several California lawmakers were prepared to rebut the GAO findings of Ryan White funding imbalances, touting a report released this week by the Communities Advocating Emergency AIDS Relief. That report found Ryan White funds more equitably distributed than the GAO did.

"I think it's skewed," said Rep. Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat. "Why are we picking on the larger cities? It seems to me that there's excellent funding for other states. The chairman's state is right in the middle here," she said, indicating Georgia, home state of committee chairman Nathan Deal. "It bothers me that we are allowing a system that counts deceased individuals," Deal said. (AP)

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