SECURE FENCE ACT OF 2006 -- (Senate - September 26, 2006)
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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, by objecting to moving this bill, we need to look at the real lives that are getting ready to be harmed. Not only is the funding for the program going to be cut to the poorest of the poor by the formula in the preexisting Ryan White Act, but also the money for New York and California is going to be cut. The New York delegation, for example, argues that updating the formulas is devastating their State's infrastructure. A closer look reveals that the impact on New York, like other States with large urban areas, is not so great.
The national average funding per AIDS case in 2006 was $1,613. New York's average was $2,122--33 percent more than the national average. Under the corrected funding formulas, the national average in 2007 would be $1,793; New York's would still be higher at $2,107, just 5 percent less than the State currently has, so people who are getting no treatment now, especially minority women where this disease has ravaged and is growing at a larger proportion, do not have access to any care.
What we are really saying is to avoid a 5-percent cut, we are going to eliminate access for large numbers of minority women in this country who are infected with this virus and have no access to drugs, have no access to treatment today because the dollars have not followed the epidemic.
The political response to this, even though it might be parochial, is wrong for this country. It is wrong for those who have no benefit today to continue to be denied benefits because some group might lose a small percentage when, in fact, a very large number of people are going to be benefited by the new Ryan White fund.
We need to be very careful. The last Ryan White law was very specific in what is getting ready to happen. The number of people waiting for drugs is going to shoot through the ceiling if we do not pass the bill because of the funding formula that was in there to force us to pass a bill.
What we have said is we are going to object on parochial interests, a 4- or 5-percent cut, but the reason we are going to object, we do not care that other people are going to have no care, no treatment, no drugs, no access, so what we are really doing is we are not taking away any significant care, but we are markedly reducing an opportunity for life for those who are the least able to care for themselves.
Just a couple of other examples. The New York Times noted that out of this $2,107, we have dog-walking paid for through AIDS funds, we have candlelight dinners paid for for AIDS recipients--this at the same time an African-American woman in Atlanta, in Greensboro, or in Tulsa cannot get the lifesaving drugs she needs for tomorrow, the drugs that will save her life, allowing her to continue to be a mother.
There have been a lot of people who have worked very hard to get Ryan White reauthorized. I thank them personally for that. It diminishes the Senate when we think of the parochial and not the whole.
The long-term former funding for Ryan White was based on AIDS cases. The new funding is based on HIV and AIDS cases. This new funding in this new bill says that 75 percent of the money has to go to treatment--we have never had that before--to really make a difference in people's lives.
I am disappointed that we are not going to be able to do this bill, but my disappointment is nothing compared to the people who aren't going to get care, who aren't going to have a future, who aren't going to have a life if this is not changed. I thank the chairman for his hard work. I thank the Senator from North Carolina for his work and Senator Jeff Sessions, as well. This is a disease which is moving hard and heavy to minority communities, to the South. If we do not recognize that they ought to have equal rights for treatment and care, there is something wrong with us.
I yield the floor.