HIV treatment advocates have condemned a report that the Trump Administration plans to divert vital funding from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to pay for detaining an additional 25,000 immigrant children by the end of the year.
“AIDS United is troubled by Slate Magazine’s report that the Trump Administration plans to divert funding from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to cover the cost of child detainment tied to its “zero tolerance” immigration policy,” AIDS United CEO Jesse Milan, Jr. said in a statement. “We oppose any diversion of Ryan White Program funds for purposes not related to caring for the 1.2 million people living with HIV in this country.
“We are especially opposed to diverting Ryan White funds to cover the ever-growing costs of a policy that is unnecessary, cruel, and a violation of basic human decency,” he said.
Milan urged anyone within the administration to speak out if the reports were inaccurate in order to quell fears and concerns among those who rely on the HIV/AIDS funding.
RYAN WHITE HIV/AIDS PROGRAM
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, a federal program run by the Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive system of care that includes primary medical care and essential support services for people living with HIV who are uninsured or underinsured, according to its website.
The Program works with cities, states, and local community-based organizations to provide HIV care and treatment services to more than 500,000 people each year and reaches approximately 52 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV in the United States, according to the site.
DETAINING MORE MINORS?
According to the July 10 report in Slate, the publication obtained internal documents that show officials with the Office Of Refugee Resettlement — an agency within the Administration for Children and Families, which is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services — discussed a potential surge in detaining immigrant minors that indicate the department would need funding for an additional 25,400 beds for the children by the end of the calendar year.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement would face a $1.9 billion deficit between Oct. 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2018, according to the article. The documents stress that these budget estimates represent maximum possible expenditures and that actual expenses may be lower.
Slate said that the Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to multiple requests for comment about these figures or anything else relating to the documents.
Total funding for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is $2.3 billion for the 2017 fiscal year, which ends September 30.
The article did not say what amount of money HHS plans to divert, but reallocation process has already begun.
“As a payer of last resort, the Ryan White Program covers services for people that have no other means to pay for them,” Milan said. “Any shortages in funding to the program would result in essential services not provided to potentially thousands of Americans. This could mean people not receiving life-saving medications or losing insurance coverage because funding was not available to cover their premiums.
“For an administration that just recently proclaimed its commitment to ending the HIV epidemic in this country,” Milan said, “stripping funding from the largest HIV-specific federal program defies all logic.”