February 25, 2011
The President’s Budget & Congressional Challenges
On February 23, 2011, AIDS Alliance hosted a conference call for constituents on the current status of the 2011 budget and the release of the President’s budget. Below is a brief summary.
2011 Continuing Resolution (CR)
- Because the previous Congress did not pass a budget for FY 2011, the government is currently being funded by a stopgap measure that is set to expire on March 4, 2011. Under this measure, Ryan White Part D (and other government programs) is largely funded at FY 2010 levels.
- Last week the U.S. House passed a CR (H.R. 1) that would fund the government for the remainder of FY 2011 (through September 30, 2011). The CR includes $61 billion in cuts – including cuts to health care programs and services that directly impact women, children, youth and families living with HIV/AIDS such as Title X (Family planning), Head Start, WIC and others.
- In H.R. 1, Ryan White Part D remains level funded.*
- Because five months of FY 2011 will have passed by March 4, 2011, the spending cuts included in H.R. 1 would be spread over 7 months.
- The Senate won’t be in session the week of February 21st. The Senate is expected to begin debate on the FY 2011 budget when they return to Washington the week of February 28th.
- Given that there is a divided Congress; lawmakers may need to pass a few short-term continuing resolutions beyond March 4 to give them time to reach an agreement on a 7-month CR.
- The Senate is expected to propose a 30-day CR that would continue to fund the government at current levels.
- Speaker Boehner has indicated that any short-term CR in the House would include cuts (we currently do not know the level of cuts that will be proposed).
- If the House and Senate can’t come to agreement on a 2011 CR prior to March 4th, the government will shut down. The impact on day to day fiscal functions of federally funded programs is unknown at present.
* It is important to note that, although Ryan White Part D is level funded in H.R. 1, we do not know what a final long- or short-term FY 2011 CR will look like. It is certainly possible that an across the board cut could be considered as a compromise in the House and Senate to avoid a government shutdown.
The President’s 2012 Budget
- The President’s 2012 budget was released on February 14, 2011. The request included an overall increase for Ryan White ($80 million for ADAP and $5 million for Ryan White Part C).
- The request included level funding for Ryan White Part A and Part D.
- The request included language that authorizes HHS to transfer 1% of HHS domestic HIV funding to support implementation of the National HIV AIDS Strategy.
- The House and Senate will have until October 1 of 2011 to release their versions and come to an agreement on a budget for 2012.
Discussion: While the President’s budget does not contain cuts to HIV AIDS services, since the next step in the 2012 process is a House version, we expect that in this economic environment we will face tremendous challenges in the 2012 budget. Support for Ryan White programs has historically been bi-partisan, and AIDS Alliance staff has had positive visits with officials from both parties. The importance of the personal story is more important than ever. Elected officials need to hear how these cuts will impact on people from their district. Putting a human face on these issues really matters. A recent survey of members of the Senate and House about actual votes showed that stories from their constituents influenced them more than professional advocates or lobbyists. Although these proposed cuts do not directly impact on Part D programs, the cuts will be detrimental to the patients and clients they serve. Constituents include providers and consumers!
- Contact Members of Congress NOW to oppose the cuts in health spending included in H.R. 1. AIDS Alliance will be sending an “Action Alert” with additional information on how to communicate and visit with elected officials.
- AIDS Alliance is sending out a survey to Part D Project Directors. We encourage individuals to ask their Project Director’s to fill out this survey so that we can accurately describe the impact of cuts on the programs and services that impact Part D and its recipients.
- AIDS Alliance encourages individuals to participate in the upcoming VOICES conference Advocacy day on May 24. This will likely coincide with Congress’ work on the FY 2012 budget.
- AIDS Alliance will continue to meet with members of Congress – specifically those members who reside on appropriations committees in the House and Senate. The “snapshots “of Part D programs from the above surveys will help in those visits.
- AIDS Alliance will continue to work with current HIV/AIDS advocacy partners and strive to identify national partnerships around women’s and family issues in this work.
To hear an audio recording of the full call, click here.