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Ryan White Care Act

Location: Washington, DC

RYAN WHITE CARE ACT -- (Senate - September 29, 2006)

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, it is my understanding this is the minority's time. Senator Byrd is coming to the floor, and they graciously granted me time to talk.

I wish to address a couple of issues that were raised by the Senator from New York as to the accuracies of the claims that have been made. I think it is real important.

I don't doubt for a minute that she genuinely cares for everybody who has HIV in this country. I think she does. I think her perspective on the challenges that face us as a nation in terms of finances is different from mine, and I will grant her that as well. But some of the claims made are not really accurate.

I ask unanimous consent to print in the RECORD an article from the New York Times stating specifically money was spent on walking dogs for HIV/AIDS patients, art classes, tickets to Broadway shows, free legal services, haircuts, things that other people can't do in any other place other than New York and California.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
[The New York Times, November 12, 1997]

New Challenge to Idea That `AIDS Is Special'
(By Sheryl Gay Stolberg)


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, another key fact: New York State alone spends $25 million a year just on administration of their Ryan White title I funds. That is more money on administration than 38 other States combined, 38 other States spend total on all of it.

The Senator from New York showed a chart on AIDS cases and spending. Well, she was right. It was about AIDS cases, but it wasn't about AIDS and HIV-infected individuals. When you look at it in terms of those infected with HIV rather than AIDS cases and when you look at AIDS cases, AIDS cases are based on those who have had AIDS in the past and those who have AIDS today but does not reflect the epidemic.

I also ask unanimous consent to have printed in the RECORD an article on the housing and rooming in New York for people who are no longer alive but for which they paid for a number of months, a large number of people, where money was wasted.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

HIV/AIDS Shelter Costs Challenged
(By Ellen Yan)


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, it is disingenuous to use AIDS cases alone to make comparisons. The reason for that is because this is an epidemic. And thanks to the wonderful presence of modern-day medicines, medicines are preventing people who have HIV from ever contracting the fullblown AIDS syndrome.

The whole idea behind the bill that Senators ENZI and KENNEDY have offered and that has passed the House with over 300 votes is to have the money follow the epidemic. That is what this bill does. There are small declines in the amount of money per person in New York so that marked increases in funds are available for those in the nonmetropolitan areas throughout the South.

We know the face of the epidemic is changing. That epidemic says that we ought to be caring for them. The Senator's answer is just spend more money. But last year, when I offered an amendment to add $60 million to the ADAP by cutting pork projects, she voted against it. So you can come to the floor and claim you are for spending more money, but if you don't want to cut out a Japanese garden which is for a Federal Government building which was $60 million so you can put $60 million into lifesaving drugs, some would claim that is not real support for more money.

The final point I wish to make is that last year, New York received over $1.4 billion in earmarks, earmarks that aren't a priority, earmarks that aren't necessarily needed in a time of war. There was no offer to cut back on the earmarks for the State of New York to pay for greater care for AIDS patients. Some want to have it both ways: earmarks in the bill that are going to come back to us this November for New York, $600,000 for exhibits, $500,000 for New York City. We have to get a hold of priorities. Is HIV/AIDS a priority? Yes. And can we put more money into it? Yes. But we ought to be making the tough choices.

So I would say to my colleague that I have great respect for her desire to make sure everybody is cared for, but I also have a desire to make sure our children are cared for. And we need to pass this bill. It is a fair bill in the long term. We will work hard to make sure the moneys are there. We will work hard.

A final point. This new bill directs that 75 percent of the money ought to go to treatment. Less than 50 percent of the money in New York goes for treatment. Fifty percent goes for other things. So we have people living in South Carolina, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and in other States who are now on a drug waiting list who can't get treatment, and we are quibbling about $300 in other programs--not treatment--other programs these people won't ever have any access to, but yet they can't get drugs. Is it a geographical disagreement? Yes. Everybody who is talking on this is for taking care of this problem. This is a great way. This bill is a good start.

Here is the other problem. If we don't pass this bill before October 1, lots of people in New York and in other States will be hurt because of the legislation in the previous Ryan White Act in terms of forcing the redistribution of this. It is my hope we can work this out.

I appreciate the Senator's sentiments in terms of her caring for those with HIV, but I know, in fact, what has been offered and worked and gotten through the House is a good approach that takes a little bit from New York, takes a little bit from San Francisco, and gives lifesaving drugs. It doesn't take any lifesaving drugs away from New York or San Francisco or California but gives lifesaving drugs to the people who don't have them today. We ought to be about doing that.

I yield the floor.

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