HIV/AIDS Programs Spared in 2011 Budget Negotiations, But Might Not Survive Future Battles
April 12, 2011
As we posted back in March, the real funding battles for fiscal year 2011 and 2012 were looming. Last week, the federal government was nearly shutdown over FY 2011 issues that have absolutely nothing to do with funding our nation but rather political ideology. Fortunately, the doors were not closed, the lights stayed on and today, we learned that many critical programs for people with HIV/AIDS were spared significant cuts, or even received new funding.
In its first funding proposal, the new Republican House Majority set an unprecedented and unreasonable target of cutting $100 billion from the FY 2011 budget and in doing so zeroed out critical public health programs. After intense budget negotiations over the past weekend, Senate Democratic leaders and the White House worked to preserve many of these critical programs the House cut or zeroed out. The continuing resolution, which members will vote on later this week, actually provides a small increase for the state administered AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). Though still woefully underfunded, the program is retained and will continue to provide lifesaving HIV/AIDS medications to millions of low-income individuals. Additionally, through the negotiation process, Senate Democratic leaders and the White House were able to fight off efforts from the Republican House leaders to include troublesome policy riders. At least until September 30th 2011, there will be no ban on funding for syringe exchange programs in the District of Columbia, or nationally. Such programs have been scientifically proven, time and again, to be effective in preventing the transmission of HIV and hepatitis. Funding for Title X family planning programs, which was the pawn in last weekend’s near shutdown, also was retained in the package for balance of this fiscal year. Though this brought a sigh of relief, a separate measure to strip Title X family planning funding is anticipated in the Senate in the coming days. And finally, though there have already been a number of votes to defund, and derail the Affordable Care Act, the FY 2011 budget package did not seek to completely dismantle the reform efforts.
At the end of this week, barring unforeseen circumstances, the federal government will be in business until September 30. The signs are clear that the stakes for fiscal year 2012 will be much greater for our community. We’ll all need to be prepared.