Recent votes by the U.S. House of Representatives that unsuccessfully sought to cut domestic HIV programs offer a clear signal that even a wide majority of the House reject domestic HIV funding cuts. Yesterday, the House overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to the Labor, HHS appropriation bill that would have eliminated the HHS Minority HIV/AIDS Fund by a vote of 109 to 324. On that vote, more Republicans (110) voted against the amendment than for it. An amendment to cut AIDS research at the NIH was made in order by leadership but ultimately was never offered.
“While the data demonstrate progress in PrEP usage, which will translate into fewer new HIV transmissions, the low usage of PrEP among the communities most impacted by HIV points to the need for increased and targeted federal resources,” said Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute. “Unfortunately, House Republicans have proposed to cut $220 million from CDC’s HIV prevention program and completely eliminate HRSA’s $157 million PrEP program for community health centers. If these cuts were to be realized, instead of reporting on progress, the nation will be experiencing increased new HIV transmissions, which in the long run will cost us more.”
“While disappointed that Congress will not be providing the necessary funding to really end HIV or hepatitis in the United States, given the severe budget constraints, what the Senate has proposed will allow existing programs to at least continue,” Carl Schmid said. “However, it is up to the entire Congress, both the House and the Senate, to be responsible and agree upon our federal spending levels. The choices are very clear.”
“While we appreciate the sustained funding for many domestic HIV and hepatitis programs, we are devastated by the proposal to virtually eliminate the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative,” said Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute. “We were on a trajectory to end HIV by ensuring all people have access to care and treatment, and prevent new infections through increasing access to PrEP, but now all those efforts will be lost. This bill cannot stand as is.”
“This situation is completely unacceptable. We have a cure for a serious infectious disease, but people who have taken the time to get tested and know they have hepatitis C are not being cured,” commented Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute. “The vast majority of these people have health coverage but payers such as private insurers, state Medicaid programs, and Medicare are erecting barriers to patient access by not covering medications or requiring cumbersome prior authorizations or imposing high patient cost-sharing. If the federal government is serious about ending hepatitis C, it needs to provide the leadership, particularly at CMS, and address these payer barriers.”