Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today praising the decision by conferees for the fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill to maintain House language that will reduce severe, destabilizing HIV/AIDS funding cuts in 11 jurisdictions, including San Francisco:
"I commend the conferees on the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill for maintaining language in the House bill that reduces these cuts to manageable levels that cities can reasonably absorb in one fiscal year.
"In particular, I want to thank Chairman David Obey, who fought for the largest increase this portion of the Ryan White program has seen in seven years. His leadership in protecting those increases and reducing these harmful cuts will ensure thousands of people fighting this disease get the medical care they need.
"For San Francisco, the agreement negotiated in conference will restore $6.2 million of the $8.5 million cut announced by the Bush Administration earlier this year. Although San Francisco developed the model of community-based care that served as the basis for the original Ryan White CARE Act, our needs are still severe. AIDS continues to be the City's second leading cause of premature death and nearly 23,000 San Franciscans are currently living with HIV/AIDS - more than at any point in the history of the epidemic. San Francisco's funding will still be cut by $2.3 million under the House bill, but it is much more realistic to expect the City to absorb a $2.3 million cut than an $8.5 million cut."
There was broad bipartisan agreement during last year's negotiations on the reauthorization of the Ryan White program that jurisdictions should not be subjected to severe, destabilizing cuts that threaten access to existing systems of HIV/AIDS care. People living with HIV/AIDS rely on these services to access lifesaving medical care, and protections were included in the reauthorization to ensure formula changes do not jeopardize their health.
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration chose to implement the reauthorization in a way that led to cuts of 20 percent or more in six jurisdictions, with some areas losing as much as one-third of funds.