Huge AIDS Funding Increase Finalized by GOP Congress
Log Cabin Priorities Met in Final Labor/HHS Spending Bill; Gay Adoption Ban Removed From Final Budget Bill
(WASHINGTON, DC) – The nation's largest gay Republican organization praised the
work of the Republican-led Congress in boosting funding for the AIDS Drug
Assistance Program (ADAP) by $175.5 million, the largest increase ever
proposed for the program, as part of the Omnibus Appropriations bill
expected to pass Congress today. The increase was agreed to by a GOP -led
House-Senate conference, and places 1999 ADAP funding at $75.5 million
above President Clinton's budget request.
"We applaud the determined leadership of Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) in the Senate and Chairman John Porter (R-IL) in the House and the members of both appropriations subcommittees for reaching this important milestone," said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "We also owe a debt of gratitude to Senator Al D'Amato (R-NY) for his tireless leadership in securing this increase. Senator D'Amato lobbied in both the Senate and the House for these numbers, which is very unusual for a Senator, and we are very grateful."
Log Cabin Republicans also applauded the removal of a provision which sought to ban gay and lesbian couples from adopting children in the District of Columbia. The adoption provision was vigorously opposed by openly gay Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
ADAP is a program administered by state AIDS directors which provides access to life-saving breakthrough HIV/AIDS therapies to those patients who are underinsured but do not qualify for Medicaid. Since the approval of the new generation of HIV/AIDS drugs, the ADAP program has been in a state of crisis, with spiralling demand outstripping annual appropriated funding. Congress has consistently increased ADAP funding above President Clinton's requests since the outset of the ADAP funding crisis in 1996. Increased access to drug treatments helped fuel the 47% drop in AIDS deaths in 1997.
"We are pleased that the Republican-led Congress has a deep understanding of the crisis in AIDS treatment access and has been consistently addressing it while the President's budgets have been falling short every year," Tafel said. "This is a triumph for people with AIDS who deserve the chance to live longer, healthier and more productive lives, and we will continue to press the federal government to make saving and strengthening the lives of people with AIDS the top priority in the federal AIDS care and treatment strategy."
Log Cabin Republicans set its AIDS funding priorities in an Issue Memo to Congress in February, with saving lives of people with AIDS as its top priority in the federal AIDS budget. The President requested a $100 million increase for ADAP in his budget, while Log Cabin Republicans called for a $183 million increase based on the need assessment of state and territorial AIDS directors across the country. Working closely with the GOP chairmen and members of the Appropriations Committees and subcommittees in the House and Senate, Log Cabin pressed for its funding priorities throughout the year. A GOP-controlled House-Senate conference maintained the approved a $175.5 million increase.
Log Cabin Republicans is the nation's largest gay Republican organization, with 50+ chapters nationwide, a full-time Washington office and a federal political action committee. Ensuring adequate funding for ADAP is one of Log Cabin Republicans' top legislative priorities.