NMAC Press Release: Budget Gridlock Further Burdens America’s Public Health Infrastructure

March 18, 2011

Budget Gridlock Further Burdens America’s Public Health Infrastructure Funding for Critical HIV/AIDS Programs Stalls amid Uncertainty

Washington, DC — Today, the Senate passed another short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) that would fund the federal government for three weeks. The legislation, which was passed by the House Tuesday, includes an additional $6 billion in funding cuts and is an attempt to avoid yet another potential government shut-down tomorrow. But while the effects of a shut-down would be disastrous, Congress’ current piecemeal approach to the budget threatens the stability of our nation’s public health infrastructure, particularly its response to HIV/AIDS.

Each year, the federal budget allocates funding for grants to organizations that provide critical HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment services to millions of Americans. These grants also ensure that organizations have the capacity to provide these services and are critical to our nation’s response to the epidemic. Unfortunately, Congress’ failure to pass a long-term budget has forced agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services to shorten its grant periods and in some cases severely delay distribution, causing a major disruption in the provision of direct services to those most in need.

“The National Minority AIDS Council, which represents over 3,000 community-based and AIDS service organizations, is deeply concerned with the current state of our budget process,” said NMAC Deputy Executive Director Daniel C. Montoya. “While cuts to HIV/AIDS programs would be catastrophic, the perpetual uncertainty caused by this endless stream of temporary spending bills places a whole new set of burdens on our nation’s public health system. There appears to be no end in sight. Thousands of organizations on the front lines of our battle against this epidemic are operating in budget limbo.”

Today’s bill would be the fifth short-term CR passed by Congress since October, 2010. And while partisan gridlock has taken hold in Washington, funding for our nation’s public health infrastructure has effectively stalled. Congress must end this cycle of temporary, stop-gap measures, and pass a sensible budget for the remainder of the fiscal year that includes appropriate funding for HIV/AIDS programs. To delay further would not only be irresponsible, it could cripple our response to HIV/AIDS.

Contact: Kyle Murphy, (202) 483-6622 ext. 333