A Washington insider with a knack for focusing federal attention on AIDS care was named last week as director of national AIDS policy.
Patricia Fleming, who was appointed interim AIDS policy director after the departure of Kristine Gebbie, was named to the position permanently by President Clinton.
"My task is to make sure that our brilliant scientists and public health experts have a clear path," Ms. Fleming said. "I will fight for the resources they need to stem the spread of HIV and, ultimately, to find a cure for AIDS."
Ms. Fleming has influence on Capitol Hill, which her predecessor lacked during her 11-month tenure, healthcare providers and AIDS activists told MODERN HEALTHCARE.
"Since her (interim) appointment three months ago, Fleming has reshaped the office, focused and streamlined its functions, and clarified its mission," said Daniel Bross, executive director of the Washington-based AIDS Action Council. "She has been a key advocate for fair and effective federal AIDS policy and has demonstrated formidable commitment to AIDS policy."
Ms. Fleming was uninterested in the post, but AIDS activists urged her to stay on.
Previously, she was responsible for directing HHS' AIDS policy as a special assistant to HHS Secretary Donna Shalala. Ms. Fleming also was employed by the late Rep. Ted Weiss (D-N.Y.) from 1983 to 1992, working as his chief of staff and with the House Government Operations resources and intergovernmental subcommittee.
The Clinton administration has been successful in boosting money for the federal Ryan White Care Act of 1990. Healthcare providers are able to tap nearly $660 million in this fiscal year, three times what was available in the act's first year, 1991.
"The director must play a major role in the development of the budget as it relates to (AIDS) at every stage of the process," Mr. Bross said. "We hope the president will live up to his campaign promises and provide support to the new director."