ABAC chairperson Rivera
In the face of more budget cuts by New York City next week and New York State after the election, AIDS advocates are uniting in plans to fight back and remind government officials that the rise in new HIV infections won't drop just because the stock market does.
"These cuts are going to have some serious consequences on real people's lives," said Manuel Rivera, president of the PWA-driven AIDS Budget Action Coalition. "Our elected officials need to know people with AIDS aren't going to be helpless bystanders as new infections rise and lifesaving support services are cut."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has asked his deputies to trim the budget 2.5 percent for the rest of the fiscal 2008-09 year, and five percent for the following year by Wednesday, October 8. Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda Gibbs is in charge of the health budget, and will decide what is on the chopping block. The new danger for AIDS services comes on the heels of devastating cuts in June, including $6 million in cuts to AIDS services, including syringe exchange, testing and prevention last June. In Albany, Gov. David Paterson is cowardly holding off until after the elections to swing his budget axe, and is expected to try to add to the August state budget cuts come November...
Read the rest: "AIDS CUTS=DEATH"
TIME TO KEEP OUR EYE ON THE PRIZE: UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE
By David Ernesto Munar
Munar: Let's focus on healthcare reform and National AIDS Strategy.
Editor's note: This op-ed is responding to Housing Works National Advocacy and Organizing Vice President Christine Campbell's op-ed "DON'T WAIT UNTIL 2012 TO REAUTHORIZE RYAN WHITE." Campbell argued that we should not delay reauthorizing the Ryan White CARE Act.
As we approach another congressional deadline involving the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Act—the nation's flagship HIV/AIDS safety net program—people living with HIV/AIDS and our advocates have some difficult soul-searching to do. In order to be effective, we must pursue a path that is most likely to result in better and more accessible services for people in our communities.
Chief among the questions we must ask ourselves and others: What ails Ryan White? Reading Christine Campbell's excellent op-ed, I couldn't help but list a few of my own gripes.
First, there is not nearly enough money devoted to the program to meet the spiraling set of needs of the growing HIV-positive population in the U.S.
Second, support service access has been greatly reduced or constrained (largely related to my first point)...
Read the rest: "TIME TO KEEP OUR EYE ON THE PRIZE: UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE"
September 26, 2008
ACTION ALERT: TELL YOUR SENATORS TO SUPPORT PATH ACT!
Bill sponsored by NY senators would delay devastating cuts to Medicaid
Attention non-New Yorkers: Contact your senators today and tell them to support the Preserving Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act of 2008 (S.3656), which includes a six month moratorium on cuts to Medicaid outpatient payments. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill tonight. If you are a New Yorker, you can stop reading now, since Senators Schumer and Clinton were the bill's chief sponsors.
But if you are from any other state call the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request. Ask to speak to your senator's health staffer, and tell that person you want your senator to support S.3656.
This Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulation that could cripple health care access for poor and disabled people—including tens of thousands living with HIV/AIDS—in 18 states who rely on outpatient Medicaid care. The proposed cut to Medicaid outpatient services would narrow the definition and scope of covered Medicaid outpatient hospital services and reduce hospitals' Medicaid funding by $2.1 billion over five years, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. To read more about the devastation this regulation would cause, click here.
In addition to the Medicaid delay, the bill would:
Put a six month delay on the Medicare Hospital Capital IME policy that is set to go into effect on Oct. 1.
Put a six month delay on the Medicaid Outpatient Clinic Rule.
Put a six month delay on the Medicare Hospice Rule set to go into effect on Oct. 1. Senators Harkin and Specter have a stand-alone bill on this with 29 cosponsors.
Delay a policy that affects California family planning services
Delay implementation of rural health clinic and community health center rule.
Require states to use coding procedures to eliminate fraud and abuse.
Read the rest: "ACTION ALERT: TELL YOUR SENATORS TO SUPPORT PATH ACT!"
STANDING IN OXFORD
Nearly 100 Stand Against AIDS activists descend on Oxford, MS demanding a National AIDS Strategy—and a debate
Crowder calls for a National AIDS Strategy
Will they or won't they debate? That was the talk of the town in Oxford, Mississippi this week. But despite this mini-drama, the Stand Against AIDS stayed on message in the quaint Southern town it has called home for the last four days, demanding that Obama and McCain commit to developing a National AIDS Strategy within 100 days of taking office if elected. (As of press time, the state of the debate was still in flux.)
"We still need the next president to tell us how he's going to address the AIDS epidemic, even as the current one is bailing out multimillionaire CEOs," said Stand Against AIDS Chicago caravan leader Richard Wallace.
When McCain announced Wednesday that he wanted to postpone tonight’s debate, C2EA activists, who had dedicated weeks and months of their lives to the Stand Against AIDS, didn’t flinch. All day long on Thursday, dozens of Stand participants marched around and around Oxford’s Courthouse Square raising awareness about the need for a National AIDS Strategy. Around 5pm, a dozen marchers, walked around the square, where a town hall was going on, brandishing signs reading "AIDS Won’t Wait...Bring on the Debate!"...
Read the rest: "STANDING IN OXFORD"
WALKIN' AGAINST AIDS
Local support pours out for Stand Against AIDS marchers on walk from Jackson to Oxford
The Mississippi walkers take the final leg
178 miles. 10 days. 15 Mississippians (more or less).
After a moving kick-off in Jackson two weeks ago, marchers with the 178-mile Walk Against AIDS—part of the Stand Against AIDS—arrived in Oxford, Mississippi Monday safe and sound. Despite the many obstacles they confronted along the way, including accidentally walking an extra six miles, the marchers were overwhelmed with the support for their mission from Mississippians along the way: Raise awareness about the need for a National AIDS Strategy from the next U.S. president.
"The harder the walk got, the stronger the message got," said Robin Webb, a Campaign to End AIDS Mississippi co-founder who participated in the Walk...
Read the rest: "WALKIN' AGAINST AIDS"
ACTION ALERT: ASK YOUR CONGRESSPERSON TO CO-SPONSOR HOUSING RESOLUTION!
Call your reps today to co-sponsor a housing resolution!
She may no longer be part of the presidential drama, but she gets the connection between AIDS and housing
In addition to fretting over a $700 billion dollar bailout, Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Christopher Shays (R-CT), and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) are planning to drop a concurrent resolution (Con.Res 102. Reps. N-House and H.Con.Res 427 Senate) establishing the critical role housing plays in the prevention of HIV and care of people living with the virus. The National AIDS Housing Coalition is named in the text of the resolution. This groundbreaking step is a direct result of AIDS housing advocates presenting a declaration identifying housing as an essential component of HIV prevention, treatment, and care to the International AIDS Society at the International AIDS Conference in August.
Congress members are trying to head back to their districts as soon as possible before the election, and we have a very short window of opportunity to get co-sponsors for the resolution. Advocates want Congress to pass it in time for World AIDS Day to maximize exposure for this important resolution.
Ask your senators and representatives join in co-sponsoring this amazing step toward housing people with HIV/AIDS! You can reach your member via the U.S. Capitol switchboard (202) 225-
3121. Ask to speak to the staffer who handles housing issues. The
goal is to have the House consider the resolution before World AIDS
Day on December 1, so it is critical that we get broad
congressional support right away. If you don't know who your representative is click here...
Read the rest: "ACTION ALERT: ASK YOUR CONGRESSPERSON TO CO-SPONSOR HOUSING RESOLUTION!"
September 18, 2008
EAST COAST STANDS AGAINST AIDS
In New York, Mississippi, and New England massive AIDS advocacy effort to demand national AIDS strategy underway
Standing Against AIDS on the Brooklyn Bridge
"Obama or McCain, will you stand against AIDS?" More than 500 people walked across the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday, one stop on the itinerary of the Northeastern caravan of the Stand Against AIDS. The Northeastern caravan is one of nine caravans converging in Oxford, Mississippi on Sept. 26 at the first presidential debate between Sens. Obama and McCain. Their aim? Obtain commitments to from both presidential hopefuls to take meaningful steps toward the creation of a National AIDS Strategy in the first 100 days of occupying the Oval Office.
Activists from up North weren't the only ones making a ruckus: Last Saturday, a “walking” caravan of folks marching 172 miles from Jackson, Mississippi to Oxford kicked off, with a little help from civil rights hero James Meredith. Check out our reports on both the Northeast caravan and the walking march below, and for all the juicy insider info on the progress of the caravans visit to standagainstaids.wordpress.com
Read the rest: "EAST COAST STANDS AGAINST AIDS"
RYAN WHITE 'CARE COORDINATION' RAISES EYEBROWS
New NYC DOH Ryan White plan favors hospitals over CBOs and duplicates COBRA services; advocates outraged
Something's not quite right about the new DOH plan...
At the last New York City Ryan White planning council meeting in July before the new members take over, the council voted that Ryan White dollars can be used for "HIV Care Coordination," a new initiative intended to reach approximately 4,000 New York City residents living with AIDS who are not accessing AIDS care and services. The new plan sounded like a good idea in theory. But when the full details were revealed at an open meeting last week, advocates were outraged.
The proposed plan would shut out many small community-based organizations in favor of large hospitals. In addition, the plan duplicates services already covered by COBRA case management. Since COBRA services are covered by Medicaid, using Ryan White money possibly violates the federal mandate that Ryan White is the "payer of last resort" and wastes Ryan White dollars on services that are already covered by Medicaid...
Read the rest: "RYAN WHITE 'CARE COORDINATION' RAISES EYEBROWS"
PUERTO RICO'S OTHER HALF
Harm reduction advocates struggle to reach drug users, who account for half of PR’s yearly HIV infections
Rodriguez founded two syringe exchange programs
As part of Housing Works Harm Reduction month, the Update is spotlighting harm reduction efforts and advocacy in Puerto Rico. "Harm reduction" is any program or policy that promotes the reduction of harm that individuals may do to themselves or others through substance use and/or unsafe sexual practices.
In Fajardo, Puerto Rico, a small city on the east coast of Puerto Rico, a dozen people hang out in a shooting gallery behind projects. These men and women search for a vein that's not dead so they can shoot up heroin. Then along comes Gloria Gonzalez, with clean needles and lollypops. Gonzalez, a 2008 Keith D. Cylar awardee, is treated warmly by the group, most of whom are chronic drug users. "It's hard to get methadone, but I want to quit," one man explained to the Update. Another searched for a vein in his leg since he was out of veins in his arms. One place he wouldn't go was his groin. "I don't want to kill my penis," he said, chuckling.
Because of Gonzalez, a former drug user herself, these people have access to clean needles, which help prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C. Yet Gonzalez receives no government funding for her syringe exchange (or "punto fijo" in Spanish) and does the distribution and outreach on her own time. She is laying the groundwork for harm reduction housing and a community center where syringe access will be provided in Fajardo...
Read the rest: "PUERTO RICO'S OTHER HALF"
DON'T WAIT UNTIL 2012 TO REAUTHORIZE RW
An op-ed by Christine Campbell, Housing Works Vice President of National Advocacy and Organizing
Ryan didn't back down from
a tough fight
Last week I attended a Federal AIDS Policy Partnership Ryan White Work Group Community Consensus Meeting. But maybe I should not have been allowed at the table. The rules of the invitation stated that "organizations are committed to an extension of the FAPP Ryan White Programs." And neither Housing Works, nor I personally, agree that the current Ryan White Care Act should be allowed to stand until 2012. While I understand concerns the community has, there is no excuse for an outdated, deeply flawed, albeit necessary piece of legislation to remain law for three more years. We can't afford another three years in wait-and-see mode. I believe we should re-write Ryan White in 2009.
I appreciate the fact that maintaining a continuity of care is crucial, and that must be addressed in any legislation. And of course, there can always be more information to make an informed recommendation, but I believe we must plow ahead and do that work given the current environment...
Read the rest: "DON'T WAIT UNTIL 2012 TO REAUTHORIZE RW"
September 12, 2008
STAND AGAINST AIDS IN NYC
Next Thursday, join a march across the Brooklyn Bridge and rally to demand a National AIDS Strategy!
Walk against AIDS!
Want to participate in the Stand Against AIDS, but can't make it all the way to the group's big Mississippi shindig later this month? You're in luck! Next Thursday, September 18 at 1:30 p.m., the Stand Against AIDS Northeast Link Caravan will lead hundreds of AIDS activists in a march across the Brooklyn Bridge to a rally at New York City Hall.
As hopefully you know by now, the Stand Against AIDS is a multiweek effort of the Campaign to End AIDS demanding that presidential hopefuls Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama commit to creating a national plan to end AIDS with in 100 days of taking office. Nine caravans of AIDS activists are traveling across the country to make their demand in person at the first presidential debate in Oxford, Mississippi on September 26....
Read the rest: "STAND AGAINST AIDS IN NYC"
THE LATEST ON CMS
New York pushes back in D.C. against dangerous CMS regulation
Baucus & Co. need to get the CMS rule delayed!
Both New York AIDS advocates and New York state employees continued their fight this week to delay the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulation that could cripple health care access for poor and disabled people—including tens of thousands living with HIV/AIDS—in 18 states who rely on outpatient Medicaid care.
The New York State Department of Health has been in regular contact with CMS; the latest from one insider is that CMS officials are receptive to New York's deep concerns about the regulation, which would reduce payment for outpatient Medicaid services to lower Medicare rates. The source speculated that there is only a "30 percent chance" that the White House's Office of Management and Budget will actually move forward on the CMS regulation...
Read the rest: "THE LATEST ON CMS"
PATERSON SUCKS BLOOD?
Activists use body bags to protest state budget cuts;
demand meeting with Gov
Activists Lolisa Gibson and Finness Smith-Purnell imitate Paterson
HIV up! Budget down! Body bags rising! The Gov's not around!" screamed more than 50 activists outside Governor David Paterson's Manhattan office Wednesday, as they threw down black bodies bags reading "Killed by Inaction," and "Budget Cuts Kill." The rally was intended to keep Paterson on the hook for irresponsible cuts to HIV and hepatitis C in the state budget in August, and demand a meeting with Paterson. Aides to the Governor, Carl Andrews and Marco Carrion, said they would get back to activists within 20 days about the possibility for an open forum with the governor.
"It's the first small step of the giant steps needed," said David Golden, a New York City AIDS Network (NYCAHN) board member. Members of CitiWide Harm Reduction and Voices of Community Advocates and Leaders (VOCAL) were also in attendance, some dressed as vampires, in a symbolic gesture of Paterson as a "bloodsucker." Monday, Paterson took heat for calling New York legislators the same thing...
Read the rest: "PATERSON SUCKS BLOOD?"