Sen. Norm Coleman Should Support $3 Billion for FY 2004 Global AIDS Spending, Editorial Says
Although Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) says he "wants to do all he can to stop the [AIDS] pandemic," if he has a chance to vote on the issue this week, he is "likely to resist" supporting anticipated amendments that would bring total spending on global AIDS for fiscal year 2004 to $3 billion, a Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial says (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/30). Although the measure (HR 1298) supporting the five-year, $15 billion initiative to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean authorizes $3 billion for the first year of the program, the Bush administration has requested only $2 billion. The Senate earlier this month rejected an amendment to the FY 2004 labor, health and education services appropriations bill (HR 2660) that would have added $1 billion to the roughly $2 billion already appropriated by the Senate for the initiative. The House has approved approximately $2 billion for the AIDS initiative in FY 2004 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/17). Coleman says that Africa's infrastructure is too feeble to absorb $3 billion in FY 2004; however, it is "hard to fathom" how Coleman "can be so sure" that is the case when he has spent only a week in Africa and specialists who have spent more time on the continent say that already established AIDS groups could actually wisely spend more than $8 billion next year, according to the Star Tribune. Spending $3 billion could have a "marked effect" on the epidemic, because the additional $1 billion could treat 400,000 people and prevent an additional 1.6 million people from contracting HIV, according to estimates from the "world's top AIDS experts," the editorial says. "AIDS-plagued countries are crying out for America's help -- more than even $3 billion could provide," the editorial says, concluding, "But that amount is a sensible start -- a message to the world that Americans really do care about the AIDS scourge" (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.