House Approves $15 Billion International HIV/AIDS Bill
The House yesterday approved 375-41 an international HIV/AIDS bill (HR 1298), which would authorize $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, with amendments that give the bill a "more conservative cast," the Washington Post reports (Eilperin/Goldstein, Washington Post, 5/2). The bill, sponsored by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), would authorize $3 billion a year for five years to international HIV/AIDS programs, with up to $1 billion in fiscal year 2004 going to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Hyde's bill endorses the "ABC" HIV prevention model -- abstinence, be faithful, use condoms -- which has had success in lowering AIDS prevalence rates in Uganda. The bill also allows international organizations that counsel about abortion to receive U.S. funding on the condition that family planning and abortion programs be financed and run separately (Allen, Washington Post, 4/25). The bill would also establish a new federal task force to act as a shadow for the Global Fund as part of an effort to allay fears among many Republicans that the fund is inefficient (Zwillich, Reuters Health, 3/17).
President Bush lauded the House for "acting quickly to pass historic legislation that is consistent" with the plan he announced in his January State of the Union address. He added, "Today's action is an important step toward providing critically needed treatment and care for millions of people suffering from AIDS, and proven prevention programs for millions more who are at risk." Bush called on the Senate to "act quickly so that we can turn the tide against this disease and give the hope of life to millions of people in the world's most afflicted countries" (White House release, 5/1). Some lawmakers said they were concerned that the measure could "fall short of its goals unless Bush and the Republican leadership" seek additional funding for the global HIV initiative during the appropriations process, the Post reports (Washington Post, 5/2). The amount the bill authorizes is "significantly more than even the White House requested" in its budget, and "Republicans provided still less room for the Appropriation Committees in the [fiscal year 2004] spending plan adopted last month," the Wall Street Journal reports. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) said, "The budget resolution doesn't permit fiscal 2004 funding anywhere near the $1 billion" allocated for the Global Fund. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, "The proof of the pudding will be when we go to appropriations and see what the funding is in there," adding, "We have something dramatic [in this bill], and I applaud it and hope it will be sustained" (Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 5/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.