HIV+ HEMOPHILIACS: Senate Panel To Take Up Relief Bill
The Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee is expected today to resume its discussion of the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund Act and report the bill out of committee for Senate floor consideration. Committee action on the bill was abruptly postponed earlier this month because senators could not decide whether the bill should be limited to hemophiliacs who contracted AIDS through tainted blood-clotting products, or include patients who contracted AIDS through the transfusions. The AP/Washington Times reports that expanding the relief beyond hemophiliacs would double the cost of the bill from $750 million to $1.7 billion, and advocates for hemophiliacs have argued that such a move will kill any hopes of the bill's passage. Sen. Jim Jeffords (R-VT), who first suggested that the bill cover both groups, is reportedly "working on a proposal to include both groups but give the hemophiliacs first crack at the money in case" full funding "is not budgeted." Jeffords noted that hemophiliacs have a well-organized lobbying effort, but other victims do not, so the issue may disappear from the radar screen once hemophiliacs are compensated. He said, "These people deserve compensation. It's a substantial amount of money. To try and get it for a group that's unorganized will be quite difficult." The AP/Washington Times notes that whatever decision the senators make, the funds must still "be appropriated during normal budgeting, which would not come until next year" (9/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.