Statement by the President: Signing of "Ryan White Care Act Amendments of 2000" (10/20/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                          (Aboard Air Force One)

For Immediate Release                           October 20, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

     Ten years ago, shortly after Ryan White's death, the Congress chose to
build a legacy in his memory.  As a young man, Ryan White changed the
world, and so has the program that bears his name.  Today I am pleased to
sign into law S. 2311, the "Ryan White CARE Act Amendments of 2000," which
reauthorizes and expands health care and essential support services to
hundreds of thousands of Americans living with HIV and AIDS.

     The reauthorization of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources
Emergency (CARE) Act is the cornerstone of my Administration's domestic HIV
and AIDS care and treatment effort, and one of its top legislative
priorities.  The broad-based bipartisan support in the Congress for the
reauthorization of this vital program sends a clear and strong message that
together we can bring care and compassion to our fellow citizens living
with HIV and AIDS.  I am pleased that during my Administration, funding for
the CARE Act program has increased over 300 percent.  For fiscal year 2001,
this landmark program will receive more than $1.7 billion.

     Today, the CARE Act has become a model for health care delivery not
only in the United States, but around the world.  It is a shining example
of the good that can come from collaboration, coordination, and concerted
action.  The CARE Act has brought together Republicans and Democrats,
cities and States, hospitals and community-based organizations, providers,
and people living with AIDS -- and the results are a tribute to the power
of public-private partnerships.  It has created a continuum of care that is
both compassionate and cost-effective -- one that saves both lives and

     When the CARE Act was originally created, we were sadly unable to do
much for those who were sick, and many of the services provided were
designed to help people die with dignity.  Thankfully, much has changed.
The CARE Act is now solidly about living with HIV and AIDS.  Since its last
biomedical research has brought hope and renewed optimism with the
discovery of protease inhibitors and combination therapies.  The CARE Act
has made the promise of biomedical research a reality in the lives of
people living with HIV and AIDS in every corner of this country.

     Last year alone, approximately one hundred thousand people living with
HIV and AIDS received access to drug therapy because of the CARE Act.  This
is particularly important given that half of the people served by the CARE
Act have family incomes of less than $10,000 a year -- and the new drug
"cocktails" cost more than $12,000 annually.  We know all too well that the
drugs are not enough.  Primary care and support services are vital to
ensuring both access and adherence to these complex drug regimens.  It is
this comprehensive package of essential services that the CARE Act provides
-- and with impressive results.

     The CARE Act has helped to reduce both the frequency and length of
expensive in-patient hospitalizations, lowered AIDS mortality, reduced
mother-to-child transmission, and enhanced both the length and quality of
life for people living with AIDS.  The Act has also provided a mainstay of
essential health and related support services to individuals living with
HIV disease and their families -- crucial services in our progress against
this relentless disease.

     The CARE Act also serves those most in need.  Nearly six out of every
10 people served by the CARE Act are poor.  They are also 5 times more
likely to be uninsured than those receiving care elsewhere; nearly 3 times
more likely to be African Americans; and 50 percent more likely to be
women.  Clearly the CARE Act has followed the path paved by this epidemic
-- but challenges remain as HIV and AIDS move deeper into underserved
communities already plagued by poverty, homelessness, and
substance abuse, and as treatment demands and costs continue to rise.  It
is these challenges that the reauthorization of the CARE Act is designed to

     S. 2311 will continue the tradition of locally defined care and
treatment that are the mainstay of the original CARE Act.  It will also
improve the programs of the CARE Act in several ways my Administration
recommended, including:  (1) expanding access to essential care for
historically underserved individuals, including racial and ethnic
minorities, women, and youth; (2) establishing a stronger link between HIV
prevention, diagnosis, and treatment efforts to make sure people get the
care they need once they learn they are HIV positive; (3) improving the
quality of care to make sure all people with HIV get state-of-the-art
treatment; and (4) reducing existing barriers within the AIDS Drug
Assistance Program to ensure that more people living with HIV disease have
access to lifesaving therapeutics.

     I want to thank some individuals in my Administration, the Congress,
and perhaps most importantly, the AIDS community for their tireless efforts
and determination in guiding this bill to enactment.  We all owe thanks to
Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala; the Surgeon General,
Dr. David Satcher; Drs. Earl Fox and Joseph O'Neill of the Health Resources
and Services Administration; and Sandy Thurman, Director of our White House
AIDS Office.  In addition, this bill clearly would not have become law
without the dedication of Senators Kennedy, Jeffords, and Frist and
Representatives Waxman and Coburn.  Finally, I am particularly grateful for
the assistance of the many and varied organizations who came together to
extend this legacy of care and compassion for individuals and families
living with HIV disease.

     HIV and AIDS have touched communities in each and every State across
this country.  In big cities and rural towns, the disease continues to
devastate individuals, families, and
communities, leaving them impoverished, suffering, and in dire need of
medical care and support.  We hope that in the not-so-distant future we
will have even better therapies and someday an effective vaccine.  But in
the meantime, we are grateful for the CARE Act, which, through its
essential services, has allowed individuals to live longer and healthier
lives.  The programs contained in this bill are literally a lifeline for
individuals with HIV disease.  For this reason, I am extremely pleased to
sign S. 2311.

                              WILLIAM J. CLINTON

    October 20, 2000.

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