Sen. Hillary Clinton is taking up where her husband left off. During President Bill Clinton’s term, he repeatedly “zeroed-out” AIDS funding his the Presidential Budget he sent up to Congress. You never heard much about it, because it was the post-1995 Republican-controlled Congress (mostly thanks to then Rep. Tom Coburn and Sen. Arlen Specter) that restored and increased funding each year.
Well, here’s what Hillary is up to now — threatening renewal of the Ryan White Act.
Sen. Clinton Delays AIDS Law’s Renewal, Citing Cut in NY Funds – Washington Post
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is holding up renewal of the primary federal law that battles HIV/AIDS, the 1990 Ryan White Act, causing a rift among activists on the subject and threatening approval of the legislation this year.
Clinton (D-N.Y.) said she opposes the measure because it would lower funding for her home state. But some AIDS groups also see broader political motives at work. Other states that would lose out include California, Florida and Illinois — all places Clinton would need to win if she seeks the presidency. Her critics also note that many of the states that would receive higher funding under the new formula are rural and Southern, which tend to vote Republican.
Now here’s what you won’t hear out of this story, but it is true. The “old formula” was designed when the scourge of AIDS disproportionally affected San Francisco and New York. But the “old formula” is subsidizing an infrastructure designed for people dying, not people living. The people living with HIV/AIDS are not growing in the Blue States, they are growing in the Red States.
The current law’s formula is based on the number of patients with AIDS; the new funding formula would, in effect, distribute funding based on the number of patients with HIV or AIDS.
Support for any particular formula “depends where you sit,” said Ernest Hopkins, director of federal affairs for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. From his vantage, he said, the bill in the Senate “is a problem.”
Of course Mr. Hopkins, from San Francisco, gets paid from the Ryan White act under the current formula. How interesting….
The senator’s insistence on a different formula — one closer to current law — has angered several groups that represent AIDS and HIV patients who stand to get more money under the pending bill. Last week, Harry C. Alford, chief executive of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, wrote a letter to Clinton that said, “It is with sadness that I learn about your efforts to block” the law’s reauthorization.
Alford said that people of color, particularly in the South, are contracting AIDS at a rapid pace and need more funding than was envisioned when the current formula was devised. “I must share with you the bewilderment of African Americans throughout the country who cannot understand why you are taking this stand against opening the door to more equitable funding that will chiefly benefit people of color,” he wrote.
Clinton’s excuse: the Ryan White measure as drafted “would have a devastating impact on New York” and “unfairly shift millions of dollars in funding away from New York and other states that have been hardest hit by the epidemic, jeopardizing their ability to provide vital care and treatment services.” The key phrase is have been hardest hit.
If this were a Republican Senator, one might even accuse her of racist politics.