The significant gains and advancements made in the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients could be permanently derailed if sequestration and budget cuts by the government are implemented, according to testimony delivered to Congress by a senior executive from the AIDS Institute in Washington.
Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of the Florida-based think tank, urged members of Congress to reconsider tenets of the continuing resolution and sequestration mandates that were originally enacted under the Budget Control Act of 2011 but implemented this year. Schmid said the cuts would impact HIV/AIDS patients especially hard and make it difficult for some of them to continue to receive treatment.
“It would be a shame to go backwards, but that is what could happen given the sequestration and budget cuts now on the table,” Schmid said. He addressed dozens of members of Congress last week and noted that one of the largest and most propitious HIV/AIDS organizations would be dealt a severe blow if the cuts are aproved–namely the Ryan White AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Schmid said thousands of patients would have to be removed from the program if various aspects of sequestration go into effect. “The cuts could force states to be in a dangerous situation of stopping payments for medications to over 7,400 patients already in treatment,” he said, adding that increased funding to meet the demand for HIV/AIDS medications is needed.
Lastly, in a related matter, Patrick Quinn, the governor of Illinois, recently announced plans to slash HIV/AIDS funding for the Illinois AIDS Drug Assistance Program by more than $4 million. Quinn said the notion is that under President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, millions of patients will be able to transition to Medicaid and have their HIV/AIDS meds covered. In a statement to the media last week defending the decision, a spokesperson for Quinn said, “About half of all people with HIV are not receiving medications or health care. Illinois should reinvest the savings from ADA to connect people with HIV to medical care.”
To view Schmid’s complete congressional testimony, visit www.theaidsinstitute.org.