Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Thursday that reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act should be "one of the most important priorities" of Congress but continued to voice concerns regarding changes in the House version that could lower HIV/AIDS funding for San Francisco.
At issue is the House version of the Ryan White reauthorization, introduced Thursday by Reps. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Henry Waxman (D-CA), to provide services to HIV-infected persons. Earlier proposals would have cut about $40 million in funding for San Francisco, Pelosi said, but the impact of Thursday’s version of the bill would now cut the city’s funding share by about $10.2 million over 5 years.
"Although this legislation has been heading in the right direction – its initial proposals would have cut San Francisco’s funding by $40 million and that has been reduced to $10.2 million – we are still fighting to reduce its impact on the city," Pelosi said. "I cannot support a bill that does not recognize San Francisco’s needs and that’s why I am supportive of the Senate language which reduces the bill’s impact on the city to $5.3 million."
Among Pelosi’s concerns is that the formula in the House bill penalizes San Francisco by undercounting the number of people living with AIDS for funding purposes. That’s because the bill gives more weight to recent cases of AIDS, and stops counting individuals after they have been living with AIDS for 10 years. When the funding formula was first implemented 5 years ago, it was presumed that most people with AIDS would die within 10 years.
New treatments and an effective system of HIV/AIDS services have allowed people with AIDS in San Francisco to live much longer. "We shouldn’t be penalized for intervening earlier and successfully prolonging life," Pelosi said.