Press Room

     (WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D., today praised the Ryan White CARE Act reauthorization principles announced by the Bush Administration.  The CARE Act is the federal government’s primary source of funding for HIV/AIDS-specific care.
     Dr. Coburn noted that, “The U.S. federal government is expected to spend nearly $20 billion on HIV/AIDS related programs this year alone and we as a nation have committed ourselves to providing billions of dollars worth of medication and care services to those living with HIV in Africa and elsewhere.  There is no acceptable reason why with such a large financial investment that any American living with HIV can not access medically necessary care.  Yet, thousands of Americans with HIV are on waiting lists for access to life saving AIDS medications and many others face drug formulary restrictions.  And while patients in Kentucky and West Virginia have died while on waiting lists for access to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), tens of millions of CARE Act dollars go unspent annually in other jurisdictions.  The principles released by the Bush Administration today, if approved by Congress, will address many of the underlying problems that have created these disparities.”
     Dr. Coburn specifically applauded the Administration’s proposals to:
  • Prioritize live saving treatment and core medical services;
  • Emphasize early diagnosis, routine testing and prevention;
  • Maintain the current requirement that federal funding be based upon reliable and accurate HIV case reports by 2007;
  • Serve the neediest first and eliminate unfair funding mechanisms that disadvantage rural states and other areas with emerging epidemics;
  • Redistribute unspent funding to needy ADAP programs; and
  • Increase accountability and flexibility.
     “President Bush and his Administration have made responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic with a compassionate and proven public health approach a priority and I applaud his continued leadership.  I encourage Congress to take up and approve these thoughtful and much needed updates to the CARE Act before the program expires on September 30,” Dr. Coburn said.
     Dr. Coburn, who has treated patients living with HIV, was the primary sponsor of the CARE Act reauthorization signed into law in 2000.  He also served as Co-chair of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS (PACHA) between 2002 and 2004.  The Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, which Dr. Coburn chairs, held a hearing last month on the CARE Act that focused on eliminating restrictions on medical care and treatment and ensuring more equitable federal funding.
     The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that up to 1,185,000 persons are living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and approximately 40,000 persons become newly infected with HIV each year.  About one in four of those living with HIV do not know that they are infected.

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