Bush ‘On Track, On Time’ To Meet Pledge To Fight Global HIV/AIDS, Tobias Says in WSJ Letter to Editor
Although the Wall Street Journal in a Dec. 10 article reported that the Bush administration is "stepping back" from its "highly publicized pledge to spend huge sums" to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic, President Bush remains "on track and on time to meet his historic commitment" to fight HIV/AIDS, Randall Tobias, head of the new State Department Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, writes in a Wall Street Journal letter to the editor (Tobias, Wall Street Journal, 1/5). The Journal reported on Dec. 10 that the Bush administration told cabinet departments that the administration's fiscal year 2005 spending proposal will include "relatively small" funding increases for HIV/AIDS programs and the Millennium Challenge Account, an assistance program for developing nations that encourages democracy and development through economic assistance. The proposal will include $2.5 billion in new funds for the Millennium Challenge Account and $1.1 billion in additional funds for global HIV/AIDS programs, according to individuals familiar with Bush's proposal. Those amounts -- along with the funds yet to be approved in the FY 2004 spending bill -- account for 18% of the $30 billion in spending increases the White House promised would take place by 2008 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/10/03). Tobias says that the Journal "overlooked a key element" of the president's proposal, adding that the "[c]apacity to provide treatment must be expanded in concert with funding increases for treatment itself in order for these resources to be used effectively." According to Tobias, funding levels should be increased over time, "with more funds available in the later years of the initiative as capacity to provide treatment increases." The administration will "move quickly" to implement programs when Congress approves the FY 2004 omnibus spending bill, and as infrastructure is built, "we will reach increasing numbers of people each year in this unprecedented effort to prevent and treat a devastating disease," Tobias concludes (Wall Street Journal, 1/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.