House-Senate conferees, completing action on a $106.6 billion fiscal 1986 money bill for the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, have approved $234.2 million for research and related activities to combat acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
The money is distributed to various agencies and includes AIDS funds for the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and related agencies and a special allocation of $16 million to set up four experimental treatment centers in areas with a high incidence of the disease, such as San Francisco or New York.
In addition, a money bill for the Agriculture Department will provide another $6.6 million (House version) to $10 million (Senate version) for AIDS research by the Food and Drug Administration, once conferees decide on a final figure.
All told, AIDS funding in the two bills will total about $240 to $244 million. That is a huge boost over the figure of about $100 million that had been provided for fiscal 1985.
Here are some other major money decisions in the Labor-HHS bill: Research Grants
Conferees agreed on 6,100 new and competing grants for research on all diseases for the National Institutes of Health in fiscal 1986, about the same level as a year ago. The Reagan administration initially sought 5,000 but later agreed to to 6,000 in a compromise with Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. (R-Conn.). Health Planning Funds
Conferees allocated $28 million for grants to state and local health planning agencies for fiscal 1986, compared with $65 million provided in fiscal 1985.
House conferees had insisted that the program not get full funding until it receives a regular authorization for fiscal 1986. The administration strongly opposes continuation of the planning program, which includes state "certificate of need" procedures, under which states must grant their approval before anyone can build major new health facilities or acquire major new equipment. Both the House Commerce and Senate Labor and Human Services Committees have reported legislation to extend the authorization, but it could face rough going on the Senate floor.
Although the appropriation bill provided only $28 million, it will be enough to keep the health planning program going through Sept. 30, 1986, at current levels, because the program is forward-funded and already has enough money from last year's appropriation to keep going to next July 1. The $28 million is intended to fund it from July 1, 1986, to Sept. 30, 1986. Medicaid, Income Support
The $106.6 billion provided overall by the bill is about $2.9 billion less than voted for 1985, but $5 billion over the president's request. By far the largest portion of the $106.6 billion goes for welfare and related programs: Medicaid grants to the states (about $24 billion); black-lung benefits of various types (almost $2 billion); grants to the states for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (about $8.9 billion); and Supplemental Security Income to the aged, blind and disabled ($10 billion). The $106.6 billion also includes $18.2 billion for the Treasury's general revenue contribution to the Medicare "Part B" doctor-insurance program.
In addition to the $106.6 billion, the Social Security old-age and disability and the Medicare "Part A" hospital insurance trust fund will spend about $250 billion in fiscal 1986; their appropriations are automatic and therefore are not included in the Labor-HHS bill total. Labor Programs
Job-training block grant to the states: $1.86 billion, about $23 million under last year. Summer youth employment and training: $664 million, about $160 million less than 1985. Displaced-worker assistance: $100 million, about $122 million less. Job Corps: $640 million, about $23 million more than 1985. Health
Maternal and child health grants: $478 million, same as last year. Community health centers: $400 million, an increase of $17 million. Centers for Disease Control: $472 million (including its share of the AIDS money), an increase of about $58 million. (Family planning is to be funded in a separate bill, at $142.5 million.) National Institutes of Health: $5.5 billion (including its share of AIDS money), up $353 million. Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration: $1.01 billion (including $43.7 million for St. Elizabeth's Hospital), up $42.5 million. Services to Poor
Fuel subsidies for the poor: $2.1 billion, same as last year. Social services block grant to the states: $2.7 billion, $25 million less. Head Start: $1.09 billion, about $12.1 million over last year. Special services for the aging: $701.6 million, same as last year. Child welfare, foster care and adoption assistance: $790.2 million, up $20 million. Work incentive program for welfare recipients: $220 million, down $47 million (the administration wanted to kill this program). Education
Compensatory education for the disadvantaged and migrant education: $3.7 billion, same as last year. School impact aid: $695 million, same as last year. Block grant and special programs to improve schools: $532 million, same as last year. Bilingual education: $173 million, same as last year. Education for the handicapped: $1.41 billion, up $90 million. Rehabilitation for the handicapped: $1.36 billion, up $128 million. Vocational and adult education: $941 million, up $7.5 million.
Student financial assistance for low-income college students and for work-study programs: $4.89 billion, down $23.5 million. Guaranteed student loan program: $3.3 billion, down $498 million.
SOCIAL SECURITY ERRORS . . . Social Security is reducing its payment errors, but 700,000 recipients were underpaid an average of $25 a month last year, according to Rep. Fortney H. (Pete) Stark Jr. (D-Calif.).
Using statistics supplied by the Social Security Administration, Stark said the underpayments totalled $226.9 million in 1984. Benefits paid out in fiscal 1984 were $173.6 billion, according to SSA.
Stark said that in 1983, 840,000 recipients were underpaid an average of $32.50 a month, so the 1984 record is an improvement. But even so, a $25 underpayment could have meant "no turkey this Thanksgiving" and the system needs to further reduce errors, he said.
FULL BENEFITS . . . HHS Secretary Margaret M. Heckler denied reports that Social Security will not pay full benefits Dec. 3 because of the recent debt-limit crisis.
"All benefits will be paid in full," said Social Security press officer James M. Brown.
Brown said the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, a private group headed by former U.S. representative James Roosevelt (D-Calif.), son of the president who founded the system, had circulated letters implying that half of Social Security benefits would not be paid in December.
Bill Lessard, director of policy and research for the Roosevelt organization, said the letter was sent out before the debt crisis was resolved. He said a forthcoming press release will assure beneficiaries the Dec. 3 checks will be paid.
NAMES . . . Dr. James O. Mason has ended his stint as acting assistant secretary of HHS for health and returned to his post as head of the Centers for Disease Control. Dr. Donald Ian Macdonald, administrator of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration, will become acting assistant secretary.
Paul C. Rettig, staff director of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on health, will join the Health Industry Manufacturers Association (HIMA) as vice president for health policy.