Congress Should Fully Fund First Year of Global AIDS Initiative ‘Without Delay or Prevarication,’ Editorial Says
"Compassion is empty sentiment" unless Congress appropriates the full $3 billion authorized for the first year of the global AIDS initiative, an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says. Although President Bush signed a bill (HR 1298) authorizing $3 billion in the first year of the initiative, when it came "time to make good on the pledge," Bush asked Congress for $2 billion, and the Senate recently rejected an amendment that would have fully funded the first year of the program, the Beacon Journal says (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/15). The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), would have added $1 billion to the roughly $2 billion appropriated by the Senate for the initiative in fiscal year 2004. The House has approved approximately $2 billion for the AIDS initiative (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/11). Bush has said that the African and Caribbean countries named in the initiative lack the medical infrastructure to absorb $3 billion in the first year, according to the Beacon Journal. However, reports from Botswana and other countries say that there is a "desperate need" for more funds to expand treatment and prevention programs and train medical personnel, the editorial says. According to the Beacon Journal, accounts of the situation in Africa by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), who last month visited the continent with a Senate delegation, "sugges[t] enough evidence to extend all the help necessary without delay or prevarication." DeWine said, "We saw groups and organizations and individuals who are ready to start saving lives ... who are in the field ready to expand existing programs. ... We need to take some chances, and we can do that with several groups that already have proven track records." The Beacon Journal says that the House and Senate should provide a total of $3 billion for the program's first year when reconciling the appropriations in committee, concluding, "It's a heartless excuse, given the urgency, to hold back desperately needed funds when the means exist to put every dollar to life-saving use" (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.