Utah Republicans are so incensed over federal health care reform that they have shelved their state's share of funding under the Ryan White CARE Act, the federal grant that helps pay for drugs and other services for low-income people who are very ill or terminal with HIV/AIDS. "Doesn't ObamaCare pay for this?" asked the Republican state Senate president, who questioned the "need" for the federal grant for "life and death" HIV drugs in his state, reports the Deseret News.
Senate President Michael 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 ... Waddoups and other Republicans questioned why "Obamacare" wouldn't pay for the drugs. One health official said that when the law fully kicks in, in 2014, such payments will be covered by the new federal program.
At one point, Rep. Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake, sighed audibly as GOP members kept asking what harm would come by waiting until May to consider the grant, which would allow staff time to provide answers to their concerns as well as background information about the program. "I'm really troubled" by the GOP questions, said Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, noting that it was unclear to her if her fellow committee members were troubled about the grant's implication in their minds of health or lifestyle of homosexuals or if it was just motivated by an anti-reform stance.
Every year the state grants $2 million to the program and the federal government matches the grant 2 to 1, allocating an additional $4m for drugs for low-income persons with HIV/AIDS. Utah has never missed its grant application, authorities say.
Utah is one of a number of conservative states that are suing the federal government over health care reform. Utah has also passed a law saying its residents can opt out of the federal mandate to buy health insurance.
In related news: Thursday, April 8 will mark the 20th anniversary of Ryan White's death from AIDS. Born a hemophiliac, the Kokomo, Indiana boy contracted HIV from a blood transfusion when he was 13 and was expelled from middle school because of his infection. Ryan White was 18 when he died.