A steady stream of individuals pleaded their cases and expressed their opinions to Bush administration representatives regarding reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act. The town hall meeting took place Nov. 10 at Wesley United Methodist Church, 201 E. 95th.
The Ryan White CARE Act provides resources for uninsured and underinsured people who live with HIV/AIDS. According to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Illinois received over $70 million in CARE Act funding in 2004. The measure was launched in 1990 and was reauthorized in 1996 and 2000. The most recent authorization expired Sept. 30, 2005.
What has many concerned is a proposed shift in funding. The Bush administration has unveiled a proposal that would take billions of dollars for HIV/AIDS-related services away from hard-hit urban centers in order to expand medical care in poor and rural parts of the country. The proposal calls for the cut of overall funding to the 51 hardest-hit cities that receive Title I grants by reducing their state's Title II funds, a share of which also supports services in urban areas. ( Title I funding refers to eligible metropolitan areas hit hardest by HIV/AIDS. Title II funding involves improving the quality, availability and organization of HIV/AIDS-related healthcare and services. ) Ultimately, more resources would go to states that have not been hit as hard by the HIV/AIDS crisis. [ Fikirte Wagaw, deputy director of the city's STD/HIV/AIDS Public Policy & Programs Department, explained that the Chicago eligible metropolitan area that could be hit actually comprises several counties, including Cook, DuPage, Kane and even Grundy. As of June 2005, 86 percent of people living with AIDS in the state reside in that area. ]
Deborah Parham Hopson, Associate Administrator of the HIV/AIDS Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration, praised the 'outstanding' work done in Chicago and discussed the principles of reauthorization. Among them are: to serve the neediest first; to focus on life-saving and life-saving services; to increase prevention efforts; to increase accountability; and to increase flexibility. ( According to the Health and Human Services Web site, the President's 2006 fiscal year budget request provides $2.1 billion for Ryan White activities to address the health needs of Americans living with HIV/AIDS, an increase of $276 million since the 2001 fiscal year. )
Among the most passionate individuals who spoke was Ida Byther-Smith, a long-term HIV/AIDS survivor. 'Instead of cutting Ryan White ... you need to add $70 million to it,' she said to thunderous applause. The advocate then told Hopson to tell President Bush, and if he does not listen, ' [ she ] would tell him [ herself ] ,' garnering a standing ovation after she finished. Others talked about how important the measure is to help them get on their feet ( regarding everything from housing to medication ) and stay there. In addition, Jim Pickett of AIDS Foundation of Chicago read a resolution adopted by the Illinois State House of Representatives urging the U.S. Congress to retain the 2000 Ryan White CARE Act provisions.