Main | Thursday, April 08, 2010

Utah Senate Delays Ryan White Act: "Doesn't Obamacare Pay For This?"

Yesterday the Utah Senate delayed approval of a long-running federal grant providing assistance to people with HIV, the Ryan White Act. Utah Senate president Michael Waddoups said coldly, "Doesn't Obamacare pay for this?"
The grant program is named after Ryan White, a teenage hemophiliac who died from AIDS complications in the 1980s after contracting the HIV virus during a transfusion to treat the blood disorder. "Doesn't Obamacare pay for this?" asked Waddoups, referring to the new health insurance reform package passed by Democrats in Congress and signed two weeks ago by President Barack Obama without a single Republican vote.Waddoups said he would not vote for the grant, which has never been questioned in previous years, until all his questions were answered. Waddoups noted that voicing his concerns should not be read as intending harm or preventing necessary medications from being delivered to Utahns who receive them under the grant. The earliest the grant will be considered is at the committee's next scheduled meeting in May. State Department of Health administrators did their best to answer the questions, noting that they had received no prior notice that lawmakers would be asking questions about that grant or any others on the list. The inaction puts the health department, already pinched by two years of budget cutbacks, in the position of finding the $420,000 from other areas in agency programs to cover the cost of providing the services through April.
Last month, the largely Republican Utah legislature resolved to put roadblocks into any implementation of the health care reform bill. By coincidence, today is the 20th anniversary of the death of Ryan White.

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