STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
(Sen. Harkin, D-Iowa)
The Administration strongly supports Senate passage of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009. The Ryan White program provides critical health care and related services to uninsured and underinsured people living with HIV/AIDS. This legislation authorizes appropriations for the program for the next four years.
The Administration is committed to strengthening access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS. The legislation reauthorizes all parts of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and supports continued funding for the Minority AIDS Initiative, the goal of which is to address the disproportionate impact of the disease on racial and ethnic minorities.
When the program was last reauthorized in 2006, the Congress took steps to ensure that the program adopted names-based HIV case data as a basis for funding allocations to direct resources to areas of greatest need. This bill recognizes that some States' HIV case reporting systems are not yet fully matured, and continues funding for jurisdictions with HIV surveillance systems that are still transitioning. In recognition of the growing epidemic outside of major urban areas with longstanding epidemics, it is important that the Ryan White program evolve and move towards determining funding allocations based on valid, reliable HIV surveillance data. The legislation also supports continuing assistance to Transitional Grant Areas.
The Administration supports the provision in the legislation revising the threshold of unobligated balances that triggers penalties for unexpended grant funds. In an effort to simplify administration of the Ryan White programs, the Administration strongly supports the inclusion of a provision to offset unobligated balances from subsequent grant awards rather than cancellation of unobligated amounts. Implementation of the cancellation of unobligated balances has proven to be a barrier to efficient and timely disbursement and reallocation of these unexpended funds.
The Administration believes that the current bill makes important improvements in HIV/AIDS care and treatment and looks forward to working with the Congress on this effort to ensure that the Ryan White Program provides the most efficient, effective systems of care for people living with HIV/AIDS.