The Hon. Tammy Baldwin
Chair, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
141 Hart Senate Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Hon. Shelley Moore Capito
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
172 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Subject: Response to House LHHS Subcommittee Appropriations Bill
Esteemed Senators Tammy Baldwin and Shelley Moore Capito,
We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, write to express our profound concern regarding the proposed appropriations bill currently under consideration by the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LLHS). The bill includes severe funding cuts of nearly $500 million for programs dedicated to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States. These cuts, if implemented, will have dire consequences for the communities most affected by HIV, particularly in the South.
As highlighted in the recent press release issued by Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC), the South shoulders an alarming 52% of new HIV transmissions, despite compromising only 38% of the US population. Programs such as the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative (EHE) have played an instrumental role in achieving tangible progress in the South. However, the proposed bill includes an 18% cut to CDC funding and a 12% reduction in HHS funding, which would entirely eliminate vital programs like Title X. The elimination of these programs threatens essential reproductive health services for low-income individuals and undermines vital efforts in teen pregnancy prevention.
Furthermore, the proposed bill entails significant cuts to key institutions and initiatives critical to the fight against the HIV epidemic. The National Institute of Health (NIH) faces a staggering reduction of $3.8 billion, hampering public health efforts nationwide. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, a lifeline for numerous persons living with HIV (PLWH) in the South, is at risk with a proposed $238 million cut. Additionally, the National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP) would face a $226 million reduction, impeding the CDC's crucial efforts to address the root causes of infectious diseases and provide improved care for marginalized populations. The proposed $32 million cut to the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund, aimed at improving access to HIV care and health outcomes for racial and ethnic minority populations disproportionately affected by HIV, further exacerbates the grave consequences of these proposed cuts.
These cuts would severely hinder public health efforts across the nation, jeopardize support for persons living with HIV (PLWH) in the South, impede the CDC’s effort to address the root causes of infectious diseases and reduce access to care and health outcomes for racial and ethnic populations disproportionately affected by HIV.
These cuts extend far beyond jeopardizing the lives of those living with and impacted by HIV in the South. They will have profound consequences for rural communities, the uninsured, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and those who have already faced significant hardships due to past policy decisions. Moreover, these cuts would set back the progress achieved through bipartisan efforts to eliminate HIV transmissions in our country.
In light of these detrimental implications, we the undersigned organizations and individuals, strongly urge the Senate LHHS subcommittee to reject the proposed House appropriations bill in its current form. These cuts would not only undermine the progress made in our collective fight against HIV but would also exacerbate existing health disparities and disproportionately affect marginalized communities. We implore you to recognize the gravity of these potential decisions and advocate for a comprehensive and compassionate response to end the HIV epidemic in the United States.
We appreciate your attention to this critical matter and kindly request that you stand with us in safeguarding the health and well-being of your constituents and the communities you represent by opposing the House's proposed appropriations bill. Together, we can work towards a future where every American can access a full range of necessary health services.
Thank you for your consideration, and we eagerly anticipate your support.
Southern AIDS Coalition