Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
AIDS Action Says Bush’s Proposed Health Care Budget Cuts AIDS Funding
AIDS Action on Thursday "criticized" President Bush for his "failure to support HIV/AIDS programs" in his proposed fiscal 2002 budget, titled "Blueprint for New Beginnings." According to the group, Bush's budget earmarks more than $3 billion in funding increases for three health care initiatives -- the development of new community health care centers; increases in access to substance abuse treatment services; and NIH's budget for medical research. But the "overall increase" for health care amounts to only $2.1 billion, producing a "$900 million shortfall that must be made up by cutting funds from programs essential to people living with HIV/AIDS," according to AIDS Action. Victims of the shortfall may include HIV prevention programs at the CDC, AIDS treatment and care programs under the Ryan White CARE Act and the FDA's drug approval process, the organization stated. In addition, AIDS Action noted that while the president's budget proposal calls for increased NIH funding for a number of areas of research, including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, the budget makes no mention of HIV/AIDS under its research initiatives. AIDS Action Executive Director Claudia French said, "While increasing funding for these three initiatives is commendable, it can't come at the expense of other life-saving programs. Supporting medical research is certainly important, but it's not a substitute for increased investments in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care." She added, "At a time when 40,000 new HIV infections are reported every year and more people are living with HIV/AIDS, how can we continue our commitment to prevention, treatment and care with $1 billion less than in previous years?" (AIDS Action release, 3/1). The Coalition for Health Care Funding also noted that Bush's budget proposal "sends a mixed message about the importance of critical federal programs to meet the nation's pressing health care needs in many areas" (Straub, Nando Times/Scripps Howard News Service/Sacramento Bee, 3/4). AIDS Action is now "seeking assurance" from the Bush Administration that the Office of AIDS Research will receive "equitable treatment of the increased funding at NIH." The organization has also requested that Bush revise his budget to "include full funding for public health programs," including the HIV/AIDS Bureau at the Health Resources and Services Administration and domestic and international HIV prevention efforts at the CDC (AIDS Action release, 3/1).
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