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National Black Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Sends Letter to Sen. Clinton Regarding Ryan White HIV/AIDS Act
  8/21/2006 3:40:00 PM
To: National Desk
Contact: National Black Chamber of Commerce, 202-466-6888; Web:
WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following letter was sent by Harry C. Alford, president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, to Sen. Hillary Clinton, regarding the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act:
August 17, 2006
Honorable Hillary Clinton
U.S. Senate
Senate Dirksen 428
Washington, DC 20510
Re: S.2823
Dear Senator Clinton:
It is with sadness that I learn about your efforts to block the bipartisan Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act of 2006 (S. 2823) and gut the funding formula reforms supported by 19 of the 20 Senators on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. I must share with you the bewilderment of African Americans throughout the country who cannot understand why you are taking this stand against opening the door to more equitable funding that will chiefly benefit people of color who currently have nowhere to turn but the federal government.
African Americans have overtaken every other ethnic group to become the face of HIV/AIDS in America, and we all have a duty to ensure that every black American living with HIV/AIDS has equal access to the care and support services needed from the federal Ryan White CARE Act to stay healthy and stay alive.
As with most health care problems, people of color are now disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, much more so than at any time since AIDS emerged in 1981. But the current Ryan White CARE Act funding formulas have never been updated to fit the changing epidemic, creating growing inequities that have thrown many patients onto waiting lists for life-saving drugs because money has run out in their states, particularly in the South.
Women of color in the South are 26 times more likely to be HIV-positive than white females. But a third of all Ryan White CARE Act funding is set aside for large metropolitan areas, and most of the states in the South will never qualify. African Americans make up 19 percent of the South's population, but accounted for over 60 percent of all new AIDS cases in 2003. Eight southern states have to treat the same number of people with HIV/AIDS as other states which get more funding under the outdated formulas.
The growing inequities are obvious and unacceptable. Addressing these gaps requires bipartisan compromise. I urge you to join that effort and not to obstruct it.
Your effort to wipe out the adjustment to the hold-harmless provision in Title I, and leave it at 95 percent for three years, will gut the funding that the reforms were trying to secure. It will render the Title I reforms meaningless and sentence African Americans in the rural South to three more years of waiting lists for AIDS drugs and vital services. People in the rural south don't have the tax base or the state resources to survive without federal help in a crisis. Efforts to gut the federal funding in the committee's mark of S. 2823 shows a disturbing misunderstanding for the health care interests of the whole nation and the whole African American community. The CARE Act is a national program, and it's imperative that we fight to make sure it serves all Americans fairly in 2006.
Please reconsider your opposition to the bipartisan consensus on S. 2823 and join the effort to make sure every American with HIV/AIDS has an equal chance to stay healthy and to stay alive, no matter where they live.
cc: Honorable Michael B. Enzi, Chair
Honorable Edward M. Kennedy, Ranking Member
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