The U.S. Congress has extended the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, helping to ensure that more than half a million low-income, uninsured, or underinsured people living with HIV/AIDS have access to lifesaving care.
The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) and the Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition (RWMPC) are pleased with Congress’ four-year extension of this critical safety net and urge President Obama to quickly sign this important legislation.
“As HIV clinicians and researchers, many of whom have been providing HIV care since the mid-1980s, it is gratifying to see so many of our patients benefiting from the current treatment approaches, especially compared with the heartbreaking patient outcomes we saw earlier in the pandemic,” said Michael S. Saag, MD, FIDSA, HIVMA chair-elect. “These remarkable outcomes simply would not be possible without support from the Ryan White Program. We thank Congress for extending this vital program for four years, and we call on the president to quickly sign this legislation to ensure that our patients have access to the care they need.”
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 would authorize a 5 percent annual increase in funding for the program, which funds medical care and other services for individuals who otherwise would likely go without care. With more than 50,000 new cases of HIV infection in this country every year, HIVMA and RWMPC urge lawmakers to increase Ryan White funding annually by at least this authorized amount, if not more, during the next four years to help address the growing need for treatment.
“Even before the current recession hit, many HIV clinics and providers were struggling to maintain the level of services that have made them so effective at delivering lifesaving care to their patients,” said Kathleen Clanon, MD, RWMPC co-chair. “As the strains on our health care system grow, HIV caseloads rise, and state HIV programs are threatened by additional budget cuts, adequate funding increases for the Ryan White Program will be critical to ensuring that patients continue to receive the multidisciplinary care they need, even when they cannot afford it.”
With lawmakers finalizing health care reform legislation, the extension of the Ryan White Program is vital to ensuring there are no gaps in coverage or access to care for those living with HIV/AIDS as reforms are implemented nationwide. Additionally, health reform offers a unique opportunity to increase support for the medical home model of care provided by Ryan White programs and to integrate these programs into the reformed health care system.
“Ryan White programs, at HIV clinics around the country, are models for delivering high-quality, cost-effective care to people with chronic conditions,” said J. Kevin Carmichael, MD, RWMPC co-chair. “This patient-centered approach, known as the medical home model, treats the whole person by providing a range of services that HIV/AIDS patients need to stay healthy. It’s critical to keeping people with HIV in treatment and addressing their complex health care needs.”
Treatment advances have transformed HIV infection from a death sentence to a chronic condition for many patients, but only for those with ongoing access to medical care. “Funding through Ryan White has allowed HIV clinics across the country to develop model programs to deliver this comprehensive and coordinated care for more than a decade,” said Dr. Saag. “We could not do the work we do every day without this support, and this four-year extension will help ensure that it continues.”
Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America, USA