The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I am so proud to represent one of the most beautiful, most diverse regions in our country, south Florida. Sadly, though, our local paradise, well known for its sunny weather, its world-class beaches, its artistic style, also is one of the areas hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We are continually confronted with the challenge of providing adequate and timely treatment to those impacted by this terrible disease.
The number of people suffering from HIV/AIDS in south Florida has increased immensely over the past few years. We have over 32,000 people currently diagnosed in my home county of Miami-Dade, and it ranks second among large metropolitan areas for people living with AIDS. On top of this, Florida ranks third in the Nation on the number of AIDS cases. These individuals need our assistance in fighting this terrible disease.
There are wonderful programs designed to mitigate the terrible consequences of HIV/AIDS. One of the most innovative, one of the most effective is the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Program. This program funds HIV/AIDS treatment for low-income, uninsured, and underinsured people. Ryan White provides funding to cities, to States, as well as directly to select clinics and care providers for core medical and support services.
In 2009, my home State of Florida received over $209 million in funding through Ryan White to assist countless low-income Americans living with HIV/AIDS. This life-saving program was set to expire this month. Thankfully, Mr. Speaker, this amazing program was granted a 3-year extension through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act, and I thank my colleagues for this.
With strong bipartisan support, this bill was overwhelmingly approved. I voted for and the House passed this legislation, and we should all be proud of that. Passage assures the continuity of this vital program. It will allow us to help States, communities, and families cope with the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic while creating a support system for those dealing with the disease.
I am constantly working to improve the quality and the availability of care for persons with HIV/AIDS and their families and their support system. It is my mission to promote awareness and education so that each day we can help assure that fewer people will be afflicted with this disease.
I have seen firsthand the impact this disease has had on so many individual lives and families in my community, and I know that extending this important program is not just a priority, but a necessity.
The Ryan White program is the largest federally funded program in the United States for people living with HIV/AIDS. It has been the largest supplier of services for those living with HIV/AIDS in the United States as well.
As a payer of last resort, the Ryan White Act offers a method of payment for treatment unlike Medicare or Medicaid. In the United States, over 500,000 people a year benefit from the Ryan White program. I know that through the extension of Ryan White, we can--indeed, we will--save and improve the lives of countless individuals in my congressional district and throughout our great country of the United States of America.