House AIDS Bill Could Save Lives, ‘Propel’ United States to ‘Forefront’ of AIDS Fight
The passage last week in the House International Relations Committee of a bill (HR 1298) that addresses the global AIDS epidemic could represent a "willingness" on the part of the United States to "invest in prevention, treatment and care," a move that could "ultimately save lives," a Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial says (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/7). The committee approved 37-8 an amended bill that would authorize $15 billion over five years to fight global AIDS. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), would allocate $3 billion a year for five years for HIV/AIDS, with up to $1 billion in fiscal year 2004 going to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/3). The measure is a "leap" beyond the proposal originally offered by President Bush in his State of the Union address, the Star Tribune says. The House bill "should be embraced" because of its increased commitment to the Global Fund, the "world's best hope for curbing AIDS," and because it lacks the "antiabortion baggage that so often sandbags reproductive health legislation," the editorial says (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/7). The bill excludes language that would prohibit federal funding from going to health and family planning groups that perform or counsel on abortion. The so-called "Mexico City" policy -- which was originally implemented by President Reagan at a population conference in Mexico City in 1984, removed by President Clinton and reinstated by Bush on the first day of his presidency -- bars U.S. money from international groups that support abortion, even with their own money, through direct services, counseling or lobbying activities. The Bush administration had shown support for extending the policy to HIV/AIDS efforts (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/7). If the House bill becomes law, the United States "at last will be acting like the world leader it claims to be," the editorial says. However, "[t]hat's quite a big if," the editorial states, concluding that lawmakers should avoid any "unseemly and irrational ... obstructionism" and "rally behind the House bill ... [to] propel the United States into the forefront of the fight against AIDS" (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.