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Reauthorization Sought for Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act

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On September 30, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act is set to expire. Sounding the alarm for public support, local HIV/AIDS service providers say millions of Americans living with HIV/AIDS are dependent for their medical care on the Ryan White programs, making it vital that the act is reauthorized by Congress. 

“The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act is a critical part of our health care safety net,” said Randall Ellis, director of government relations for Legacy Community Health Services. “Timely extension of this legislation is essential to ensure that uninsured and underinsured people living with HIV/AIDS do not experience a gap in the delivery of life-saving medical and supportive services as our nation transitions into a new health care environment. An unprecedented consensus among those on the frontlines of the epidemic, nearly 300 HIV/AIDS organizations in 45 states across the country, have endorsed a plan that would amend and reauthorize this legislation for three years. Congress must act swiftly when they return to Washington, DC, in September.”

Enacted in 1990, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act was named after a teenager infected with HIV who became a national spokesman for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. The largest federal program for helping people with HIV/AIDS, the act makes care available to those patients who cannot afford treatments by any other means. Starting with $220 million in 1990, funding of the Ryan White programs in 2005 increased to $2.1 billion with roughly one-third of the funding going to AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, providing HIV-treatment drugs to low-income patients in all 50 states.

According to an August 26 news release from Centerlink (formerly the National Association of LGBT Community Centers), Ryan White HIV/AIDS programs are the “payer of last resort,” helping people living with HIV/AIDS who have no other way of paying for their medication and treatments. Without the programs funded by the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act, these people would literally be unable to afford their medical care, the news release said.

Activists recommend that the Ryan White Program be extended for three more years with the recommended changes, such as the inclusion of Such Sums Necessary language, the updating of the Requirement of Name-Based Reporting language, and the extension of TGA eligibility, which has been endorsed by over 270 organizations across the U.S. – by Nancy Ford

Editor’s note: OutSmart urges readers to contact their legislators to recommend extension of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act to avoid service disruptions to persons with HIV/AIDS.

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