The AIDSWatch planning partners — AIDS United, the US People Living with HIV Caucus and the Treatment Access Expansion Project/Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation — determine policy priorities for an AIDSWatch brief from recent legislative analysis, AIDSWatch community input and guidance from networks of people living with HIV. AIDSWatch 2022 advocates are undertaking an ambitious and responsive policy agenda, covering quality of life, aging, the meaningful involvement of people living with HIV in federal policy, civil rights, appropriations and several other issues.
However, the policy process sometimes moves fast. While the planning partners drafted the AIDSWatch policy brief in recent weeks, there have been some key developments we want to make sure AIDSWatch advocates are aware of. We’re in a crucial moment for advocacy; some of our communities’ top priorities — closing the Medicaid gap, promoting racial equity, expanding access to PrEP and others — have a chance to be addressed by the 117th Congress. But we, as AIDSWatch advocates, have to ensure our Congress members know that we are watching.
President’s budget request
The Biden-Harris administration recently released its proposed budget for the fiscal year 2023, the most comprehensive presentation of its funding priorities to date. The budget proposes critical funding for several programs that impact people living with HIV. However, there is still work to do to ensure this funding is secured.
National PrEP program
The president’s budget request includes $237 million in the fiscal year 2023 for a new national PrEP program and a total of $9.8 billion for the program over the next 10 years. The program would guarantee PrEP, medication that prevents HIV, at no cost for all uninsured and underinsured people, as well as for people on Medicaid. While details of the program would be determined by federal health agencies, the program would be mandated to provide essential wrap-around services and would expand the network of community providers to reach underserved areas and populations. We praise the administration’s investment in PrEP, and we must encourage Congress to make a national PrEP plan a reality by passing this budget.
Unfortunately, the president’s budget for fiscal year 2023 only proposes a $5 million increase to the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS program. Housing assistance is HIV care and prevention, and HOPWA is the only dedicated source of housing funds for people living with HIV. The proposal for $455 million for the program in 2023 does not reflect the true need for housing interventions and falls $145 million short of HIV advocates’ asks. We need Congress to surpass the president’s budget and fund HOPWA at $600 million.