Breaking News: House committee approves 2013 funding for PEPFAR, Global Fund, global TB

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The House Appropriations Committee voted on its fiscal year (FY) 2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill Wednesday and released a report that clarifies its funding intentions for key global health programs. 

The bill includes $5.542 billion for global AIDS funding through the State Department, and the report specifies $4.243 billion to support the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program and $1.3 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  The report highlights funding for prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs and funding for pediatric HIV treatment programs, and encourages the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC), “to identify new tools to diagnose and safety treat children living with HIV.”  The committee report also directs OGAC to consult with the funding committee on its efforts to achieve savings to continue to reduce the per-patient costs of treatment, “given the now established benefits of antiretroviral treatment in improving health and preventing new infections.”  The committee also stipulates that funding cannot be used for syringe exchange programs.

The $2.475 billion slated for other global health programs at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in the bill is about $150 million less than current funding for these accounts.  Nevertheless, the report supports maintaining current funding levels for tuberculosis, malaria, maternal and child health, programs for vulnerable children, and malaria programs, and specifies the committee’s opposition to reductions in these particular programs reflected in President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request. From the committee’s perspective international family planning programs would bear the brunt of budget cuts, with the report specifying funding for family planning and reproductive health programs at FY 2008 levels – a reduction of more than 28 percent from FY 2012. 

In other issues highlighted in the report, the committee underscores its continuing support for funding microbicide and HIV vaccine development and specifies that the U.S. contribution to the Global AIDS Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) should be used for vaccines that have a direct impact on child survival, including the rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines.

The Senate State and Foreign Operations funding subcommittee will reportedly consider its FY2013 funding bill next week. The end game in reconciling what will likely be significant differences between the two bills and getting a funding bill for foreign assistance and global health signed into law before October 1, when the new fiscal year will begin, remains unclear at this time. More details can be found in the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Policy Tracker.

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