2006-10-06 / Community

NY House Delegation Votes No On AIDS Bill

On Monday, Representative Gregory W. Meeks along with the entire New York delegation, voted against the bill that reauthorizes the Ryan White Care Act, which provides federal funding for HIV/AIDS related primary health care programs and services because the funding for New York city would be cut precipitously under the reauthorized bill..

"Under this bill's funding formulary, New York City will experience devastating cuts in funding to established programs that provide critical services to our most needy HIV/ AIDS population. Minorities, the poor, the uninsured and will most seriously suffer" stated Meeks. "It will change the way that the money is distributed, providing more funding to states that are beginning to experience increasing numbers of HIV positive persons, by taking funding away from the cities most historically and disproportionately affected by the pandemic."

More than half of all people living with AIDS in the United States live in five states. Three of the states with the highest prevalence in the nation (NY, NJ and FL) will lose significant funding. It is estimated that New York City will lose $17.8 million in the first year and will likely experience more devastating losses in the subsequent four years of the reauthorization.

"The real problem is that HIV/ AIDS is terribly underfunded under this bill, forcing states to compete against each other. My colleague, Rep. Ed Towns (D-NY) offered an amendment in committee that would have increased authorization to correct the problems. The amendment failed, with most of the Republicans on the committee voting against it. It was then placed on the suspension calendar, which requires that the bill pass by 2/3 of the House and does not allow amendments to be considered."

Although most of the Representatives from the states facing losses voted against the bill, it passed in the House by 325-98. "This bill determines the life or death of thousands of New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. If it passes in the Senate with no increase in funding or a more equitable distribution of funding considered, New York's healthcare community and HIV/AIDS population will face catastrophic losses."

Congressman Meeks plans to lead a press conference on this issue in his district at the AIDS Center of Queens County at 97-45 Queens Blvd, Rego Park on Thursday, October 12, 2006, 9:30 A.M. Meeks will continue his commitment to addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis by inviting hundreds of children, women and men to an interactive HIV/AIDS Congressional Town Hall at York College on Tuesday, October 24, 2006 in partnership with Queens Hospital Center, Queens HIV Care Network, Black Entertainment Televisions' Rap-It-Up campaign among other community partners. For more information contact Ida Smith at Congressman Meeks' district office at (718) 725-6000.

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