RYAN WHITE CARE ACT: Clinton Signs Bill Renewing Funds
President Clinton on Friday signed legislation reauthorizing the Ryan White CARE Act, allocating more than $1.6 billion for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports. Clinton expanded the bill to offer for the first time funding for HIV infections as well as AIDS cases, a move that the bill's supporters laud as beneficial for programs aiding infants, women, minorities and people living in rural areas. The bill earmarks $20 million per year for five years to fund programs aimed at reducing vertical HIV transmission and $30 million for programs encouraging HIV-positive individuals to notify their partners of their status (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/20). According to a White House release, the new legislation will also emphasize a "stronger link" between HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment efforts, improve the quality of care and treatment for HIV-positive individuals and "reduc[e] existing barriers within the AIDS Drug Assistance Program to ensure that more people living with HIV ... have access to lifesaving therapeutics" (White House release, 10/20). "This reauthorization shows that much can be accomplished through bipartisan cooperation. This is a tremendous victory for people living with HIV in the United States," AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families Executive Director David Harvey said ( AIDS Alliance release, 10/20). In his statement on the bill's reauthorization, Clinton described the Ryan White CARE Act as one of his administration's "top legislative priorities" and "a model for health care delivery not only in the United States, but around the world." According to the White House release, the CARE Act has helped to reduce both the frequency and length of expensive inpatient hospitalizations, lowered AIDS mortality, reduced vertical transmission and improved the quality of life for people living with AIDS. Last year, the Ryan White CARE Act allowed approximately 100,000 people to access drug therapy. Beneficiaries of the act are five times more likely to be uninsured than those receiving care elsewhere, three times more likely to be African-American and 50% more likely to be women; nearly six out of every 10 beneficiaries of the act are poor. Clinton added that the renewal of the bill "sends a clear and strong message that together we can bring care and compassion to our fellow citizens living with HIV/AIDS" (White House release, 10/20).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.