WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today introduced legislation aimed at strengthening our federal response to HIV/AIDS. Senator Baldwin’s HIV Clinical Services Improvement Act would improve health care access by strengthening Ryan White Part C clinics to ensure these community providers have the capacity and support to deliver high-quality care to those living with HIV/AIDS.
In 2009, then-Representative Baldwin introduced this legislation as the Ryan White Grantee Payment Equity Act and today, Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan has introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
Every year, more than 50,000 Americans become newly infected with HIV and today, there are an estimated 8,200 people in the state of Wisconsin living with HIV.
“HIV/AIDS remains a public health crisis in our country and despite medical advances, people living with HIV still face significant physical, emotional, and financial burdens to quality health care,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’m proud to introduce the HIV Clinical Services Improvement Act in order to improve health care access for some of the most vulnerable in our society.”
“The HIV Clinical Services Improvement Act, will help Ryan White Program Clinics to more effectively create access to treatment and care for people with HIV, a critical component in fulfilling the National HIV/AIDS Strategy to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States. AIDS United strongly supports and urges Congress to take action to pass this important bill,” said Michael Kaplan, CEO and President, AIDS United.
“Senator Baldwin and Representative Pocan’s leadership is truly commendable. Unfettered access to high quality health care for people with HIV is a key component of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy,” said AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin’s President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Gifford. “Today in the United States, the difference between a long, healthy life or rapid disease progression and significant illness for HIV patients is having a primary care physician who is knowledgeable about treating HIV disease. This bill will make sure that more Americans with HIV have access to this care.”
“The Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition greatly appreciates Senator Baldwin’s long-standing support of HIV programs and the clients they serve. By introducing legislation that would authorize eligible Ryan White Part C medical clinics to receive enhanced Medicaid funding, this bill would help ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS have access to life-saving, comprehensive, and effective HIV care and treatment. Congress should pass this bill swiftly to help the nation achieve its goal of an AIDS-free generation as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Michelle Ogle, Coalition Co-Chair, Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition.
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program provides medical care for people living with HIV/AIDS who do not have adequate health coverage or resources to cope with the disease. Part C of the Ryan White Program directly funds community clinics and health centers that deliver quality, comprehensive HIV care to over 275,000 people a year. As many Part C clinics serve a large number of our underserved and uninsured, they often struggle with insufficient funding and Medicaid reimbursement.
Since 2001, the number of patients served by Part C increased by 74 percent, while funding only increased by 8 percent.
The HIV Clinical Services Improvement Act is supported by the AIDS Resources Center of Wisconsin, AIDS United, Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition, the HIV Medicine Association, and AIDS Arms, Inc.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin is a strong supporter of increased funding for domestic HIV/AIDS programs to improve prevention and education efforts and to help save lives. In March, she led a call with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to strengthen federal investments in our domestic programs to address the serious public health threat of HIV/AIDS in America.