A Senate committee chairman is pushing legislation to compensate hemophiliacs who contracted the AIDS virus in the early days of the epidemic as well as other people infected through blood transfusions.
A version of the bill already passed in the House would compensate only about 7,200 hemophiliacs who became ill from blood-derived clotting medication produced before the government acted to safeguard the nation's blood supply.Sen. James Jeffords, R-Vt., wants to have his Labor and Human Resources Committee approve a bill Wednesday that would authorize $1.7 billion for compensation payments or $100,000 per victim of tainted blood.
Jeffords is working on a proposal to include both groups but give the hemophiliacs first crack at the money just in case all $1.7 billion is not budgeted.
In May, legislation named for Ricky Ray, a 15-year-old hemophiliac who died from AIDS, easily passed the House. It would give $100,000 to each of 7,200 hemophiliacs who contracted HIV through the blood supply or to a survivor of those who have died.
The dispute has wound up pitting hemophiliacs against transfusion victims, although both groups say they want to help the other.
Transfusion victims argue that they suffer from the same disease, contracted from the same tainted blood supply.