Monday, January 21, 2013

US House of Representative Maurice Hinchey retires

Bill Arnold Executive Director of Community Access National Network reflects on the tenure of Member of the US House of Representative Maurice Hinchey who recently retired after 20 years of service. 

Maurice Hinchey will retire from the House of Representatives after 20 years with the final gavel fall on this Congress’ “lame Duck” session. Prior to joining Congress in 1992 Maurice spent 18 years in the New York State Assembly. With my longtime residence in Maurice’s districts he has represented me at either the state or national level for the better part of 30+ years.

Maurice was an early supporter of LGBT rights and early in the AIDS epidemic recognized the serious challenges the epidemic would bring as part of his congressional district lie only 100 miles from New York City. I worked on Maurice’s early local and Congressional campaigns (coordinating volunteers). Early victories were close (one involved a recount) but thereafter he was such a good fit for his district (stretching from the Hudson River west through the Catskill Mountains to Binghamton and Ithaca – a LONG drive) that he was often  unopposed. With a liberal and progressive bent, but also strong bi-partisan beliefs when it came to the interests of New York or his district or his constituents he quietly intervened on on AIDS and ADAP issues. He led the bi-partisan New York delegation ADAP  appropriations letters for over a decade. Several hundred million ADAP dollars bear his fingerprints from his time on the House Appropriations committee.
Maurice has been on the Board of Community Access National Network for over a decade. In retirement Maurice will be remaining on the CANN Board.

The photo top right was taken in 1992 on the day that Maurice was first sworn in. The photo on the bottom right was taken in November 2012 as Maurice’s office was being packed up for shipment back to his native Hudson River town of Saugerties, New York- where I owned a factory and first met Maurice.

Maurice has had serious health issues in the past year (hence the retirement), but there is no denying the effect of 20 years in Washington visible on all parties in the above photos.
UI will miss Maurice and his very capable staff as the ADAP and access to care issues plays out in both HIV and HCV in the coming years. It has been a distinct luxury to have an office in Congress where I could call for help on an ADAP or AIDS issue and have the response always be “what can we do to help”.

Community Access National Network has been committed to advocating for care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C since 1996.

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