A $400 million provision that would have gone to HIV/ AIDS prevention programs was dropped from the Senate version of the economic stimulus package last Friday in an effort to appease Republicans. AIDS groups say that their programs can boost the economy, while Republican sentiment is that the funding ought to be elsewhere, if existing at all.
“Many of the Republicans are griping about the STD and AIDS funds being in the bill but not about the rest of this public health fund,” said Carl Schmid, director of federal affairs for the AIDS Institute, another national advocacy group.
“We support the fund, including the HIV part of it,” Schmid said. “We feel prevention is cost effective and saves money in the long run.”
He and Johnson said their respective groups also believe that including HIV and STD prevention funds in the president’s economic stimulus package can be justified as a legitimate economic stimulus provision because the funding would result in more health care related jobs.
“Health care is the largest single component of the gross national product of the nation,” Johnson said. “The economic impact of health-related activities, including HIV-related activity, is very substantial.”
Republican and conservative critics of the president’s stimulus plan have taken strong exception to that assessment. Some have said the plan was rapidly evolving into a “Christmas tree” bill, with liberal Democrats pressuring Obama to add many of their pet projects that the Bush administration had blocked over the past eight years.”