An amendment supported by Democratic U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fort Lauderdale, to increase funding for AIDS Drug Assistance Programs was passed last Friday as part of the continuing resolution for federal spending.
Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of The AIDS Institute says the amendment would allocate $42 million to the Health Resources and Services Administration, which would then invest them in Drug Assistance Programs across the country. Schmid says the Florida AIDS Drug Assistance Program needs that money desperately.
The federal- and state-funded Drug Assistance Programs are facing a funding crisis and have a waiting list of more than 6,400 patients, as of Feb. 18. Florida has 3,276 of that total.
In a press release, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation explained that a delegation of its Southern Bureau, which serves more than 15,000 Floridians living with HIV/AIDS, traveled to Washington to lobby for the use of these funds to address the Drug Assistance Program crisis and met with Hastings.
According to Schmid, Republicans had proposed no increases for the Ryan White Care Act, which covers Drug Assistance Programs. He says that under the Republican proposal, Florida would have lost $6.9 million for its program in the fiscal year 2011.
Michael Ratner, legislative director for the Florida Democratic GLBT caucus wrote this week: “The victory of $42 million more going to ADAP was bittersweet. While the continuing resolution is welcome, the House of Representatives has now sent the spending bill to the US Senate where Republican senators will target countless programs.”
The Hill reported that “the standoff over spending cuts continued Wednesday as lawmakers in the Senate and House rejected each other’s short-term budget plans, keeping the possibility of a government shutdown alive.”
The House of Representatives' Office of Congressional Ethics has launched a preliminary investigation into Rep. Vern Buchanan, R- Sarasota. Though the office can neither confirm nor deny ongoing investigations, a source tells The Florida Independent that at least two former Buchanan employees have been contacted as part of the investigation.