VOLUME 3, ISSUE 304 | January 22 – 28, 2004
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
January 19, 2004
To the Editor
Paul Schindler got it right, we need leadership and we need it here in our own city (“The Time for Leadership,” Jan. 15-21).
In the recent New York Times article on crystal meth use among gay men the author, describing a bathhouse, wrote: “There were plenty of condoms for the taking…” This is simply untrue. Years ago, condoms were in every room and given to everyone upon arrival. This ceased after a raid on the club, because distributing condoms is inciting people to break New York State law that states that oral, anal and vaginal sex in such establishments is illegal. Signs posted in the club now inform attendees that these activities are prohibited. One must go to the front desk for a condom.
At other clubs in some cities, attendees will be permanently barred for having (or requesting unsafe sex) and condoms and STD information are prevalent.
Years ago, bareback sex parties were “underground” events, but barebacking has now become the status quo in New York City’s sex establishments that cater to gay men––and we all know where they are whether they choose to advertise themselves or not!
What I find most offensive is that individuals are raking in the dough while the city, the Department of Health, and taxpayers foot the bill in the end. We need leadership to either 1) change the law and promote safer sex in such establishments or 2) shut them down.
I prefer the first choice, but the second may be necessary.
David S. Bimbi
Housing Works Responds, Twice
January 19, 2004
To the Editor
In Dennis deLeon’s letter to the editor in last week’s issue of Gay City News (Jan. 15-21), he asks “what is constructive about a Preferred Drug List and requiring seeking Prior Authorization to seek medications that are not on that list?” We believe there is a whole lot that is constructive about that proposal. We believe that every person with HIV should have access to any treatment necessary. But for that to happen, treatment must be affordable and shouldn’t come at the expense of housing and other life-saving services. The only way that can happen is to stop pharmaceuticals from price-gouging as many are doing now.
A Medicaid Preferred Drug List would give New York State the ability to use its leverage to bring prices down in the same way that insurance companies use PDLs to obtain discounts. That’s why the pharmaceutical companies are lobbying so hard against it.
Housing Works has taken a position in support of legislation establishing strong consumer protections for any Medicaid Preferred Drug List, and we will oppose any Preferred Drug List that doesn’t have those protections in place. We believe that if the doctor and patient have the ability to easily access non-listed medications when clinically indicated, there does not need to be a blanket exemption for HIV medications.
Our recommendations––which protect the person, not the drugs––will ensure continued access to appropriate drugs while working to bring down their cost. New York’s Medicaid program buys more AIDS drugs than any other in the nation, and drug companies will be forced to negotiate lower prices to get their products onto the Preferred Drug List. Provisions of federal law and regulations will then force drug companies to pass those savings on to the other states and territories. New York could lead the nation in reducing the cost of AIDS drugs through a strong Preferred Drug List, and we’ll support it as long as individual consumers are protected.
And as far as “AIDS Inc.” goes, we have serious concerns about AIDS organizations’ advocacy on issues like the Preferred Drug List being influenced by drug company dollars. Last year, the Albany Times-Union cited a number of non-profit groups, including the Latino Commission on AIDS, that received drug company funding and then supported drug company positions on the Preferred Drug List issue. Housing Works does not auction off our policy positions to the highest bidder, and we have a proven track record of putting our constituents’ interests above those of the institution.
We will fight to protect HIV-positive Medicaid beneficiaries and reduce the high cost of AIDS drugs whenever possible, and we have not and will not take any money from the drug companies to fund our advocacy. We urge the Latino Commission and other New York AIDS groups to do the same.
Housing Works, Inc. Manhattan
January 15, 2004
To the Editor:
Dennis deLeon’s letter is sadly and badly inaccurate.
Gay City News readers should know that Housing Works has specifically and publicly criticized Senate Republican proposals to reduce benefits for disabled children. We called proposed restrictions on the income of spouses of disabled elderly New Yorkers “just plain scary,” and listed them among the “brutal cuts” included with real reforms in last month’s Senate Republican Medicaid Task Force report.
Mr. deLeon received our statements on these issues, along with 1,750 other readers of our weekly AIDS Issues Update. But these inaccuracies serve to cover his real criticism of Housing Works, our support for new efforts to bring down the cost of AIDS drugs for Medicaid, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, and uninsured programs in New York and nationwide. We’re willing to debate Dennis or anyone else on this issue, but a debate based on reality would be best.
Michael Kink, Esq.
Housing Works, Albany’
The General’s Own Words
January 15, 2004
To the Editor:
I wanted to write you to thank you for your publishing an op-ed by presidential hopeful Wesley Clark. We should commend all of the Democratic presidential candidates this year for their courageous stands on gay issues, in spite of the risk of intense backlash from the moral “right” and an increasingly polarized political climate.
Perhaps never have we had candidates who’ve taken such bold stances on gay rights issues, especially on the question of gay partnerships. We often think of Gov. Dean for his signing of legislation to recognize gay unions; Vermont’s legislature is to be commended for the drafting and passing of such legislation and Dean, for signing it.
However, all of the presidential candidates have taken equally strong, or even stronger, positions for the GLBT community, each insisting that gay partnership is a civil rights issue and that all gay partners deserve to be treated and recognized equally by our federal government.
The Rev. Al Sharpton and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun have even ventured as far as to say that our government should recognize gay marriage as an institution, and an ongoing survey by the American Family Association (afa.net), a conservative pro-“family” organization, shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans support the legalization of homosexual marriage (59.86 percent of over 815,000 votes).
The best way to politically approach the issue of gay partnership has been difficult to nail down, but the Democratic hopefuls have done well to confront the issue head on.
I am a dedicated supporter of General Wesley Clark’s bid for the White House, and it’s not just because I’ve always loved a man in uniform. Wes Clark is outside the fray of politics, a true and proven leader, who fights for the rights of all Americans. He strongly favors government recognition of gay unions, and believes that states and religious institutions should have the right to recognize gay marriages as well. He also bravely asserts that our U.S. military should admit and recognize gay and lesbian Americans who want to serve our country. He is a great man with a great vision for our country, and he will always strive to bring us together to move us forward.
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