6 Members Of The Presidential Advisory Council On HIV/Aids Resign
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Let's ask a doctor why she left U.S. government service. Her name is Michelle Ogle. She is one of six people who quit the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS last week, saying President Trump, quote, "simply does not care about the issue." She joins us now via Skype from North Carolina. Good morning.
MICHELLE OGLE: Good morning. Thank you for having me on this morning.
INSKEEP: Wow, what makes you think the president doesn't care about AIDS?
OGLE: Well, there's several things. Very early on in his administration and even before the administration during the campaign, Mr. Trump refused to meet with HIV advocates and stakeholders, whereas the Clinton camp and Sanders camp did meet with many advocates and stakeholders.
INSKEEP: So that's one thing. What about since he's become president?
OGLE: Since the inauguration, the first thing that happened that was a clue - the Office of National AIDS Policy website was removed. And to our knowledge at this point, that website has not been restored. Also, we've made attempts to communicate with this administration. We sent a letter to Secretary Price and to Mr. Trump to basically let them know what the advisory council does, our goals, how we want to - you know, hope to work with them. And we've just gotten nothing but a very lackluster response from the administration.
INSKEEP: OK. Let's make sure we're clear here. Is it that he doesn't care about the issue or just that he's not listening to your advice?
OGLE: No, he doesn't care about the issue. The budget proposal that he sent forward shows that he doesn't care about the issue. Also, the American Health Care Act, the bill that he's put forward that they celebrated in the Rose Garden with, shows that he doesn't care.
INSKEEP: Oh, this is the House-passed version of the Obamacare repeal and replacement. I want to be clear on a fact here because when we reached out to the White House, they said, well, these advisory council people never told us they were concerned. You just said you sent a letter, is that correct? You sent a letter to the top officials, including the president himself?
OGLE: That's true. We sent two letters, actually - one which is basically a welcome letter from the council, again, letting them know who we are, what we do, outlined our goals - actually made recommendations that included the value of Medicaid and why we felt Medicaid shouldn't be cut. And those kinds of things were in those recommendations.
And we also sent another letter addressing stigma and HIV and how we wanted to work with the administration on stigma. And we received a response from the acting assistant's deputy secretary, which was basically very lackluster, you know, nothing that was really engaging. And that is the only communication we've had.
INSKEEP: It sounds like you have some communication issues and also policy differences, broad health care policy differences, with this president. With all that said, the government does spend a lot of money on AIDS research and treatment. In a few seconds that are left, can you mention one thing that is not getting done that urgently needs to be done?
OGLE: Well, if you look at the budget that's been proposed by Mr. Trump for FY18, he actually proposes $149 million or 19 percent cut in CDC HIV prevention funding, also proposed a National Institute of Health in AIDS research $550 million cut or 18 percent cut.
OGLE: So those are things that you say - he absolutely can't care and has no idea about what it takes for us to really combat HIV and AIDS.
INSKEEP: Dr. Ogle, thanks very much.
OGLE: Thank you for having me.
INSKEEP: Michelle Ogle is a former member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.