Eating The Future: GOP’s Continuing Resolution Proposal Cuts Millions From HIV/AIDS Prevention

In an effort to demonstrate the real consequences of the health care cuts proposed in the GOP’s continuing resolution (CR) proposal, the AIDS Institute has put out this release arguing the reductions would devastate HIV/AIDS treatment and research. “While it may help achieve short term goals to reduce federal government spending, this reckless action will have long term impacts on the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV/AIDS and on efforts to prevent HIV infections in the future,” Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director of The AIDS Institute said in the release. “In the long run, the costs to society and individual’s lives will be far greater than any short term savings.” Here are some of the cuts:

$25 million cut from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). ADAP is a program of last resort for the poorest Americans who don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. Currently, there is a waiting list of over 6,000 people in ten states to receive benefits from the program.

$850 million general reduction to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The organization distributes funding to cities and states for prevention, testing, surveillance, education programs and condoms.

$1.6 billion cut in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), significantly impacting HIV/AIDS research.

— Prevents DC, a place with one of the highest rates of HIV in the country, from spending its own money on syringe exchange programs.

All of this would have a direct impact on today’s AIDS patients, but it would also significantly undermine efforts to slow the spread of the epidemic and — by underfunding prevention — increase treatment costs down the road. So what’s the logic in all this? Well, as Paul Krugman describes in today’s New York Times, Republicans have adopted the approach of feeding on the future: “Focus the cuts on programs whose benefits aren’t immediate; basically, eat America’s seed corn,” he writes. By slashing future-oriented programs, they can deliver the instant spending cuts Tea Partiers demand, without imposing too much immediate pain on voters. And as for the future costs — a population damaged by childhood malnutrition, an increased chance of terrorist attacks, a revenue system undermined by widespread tax evasion — well, tomorrow is another day.”

At CPAC this weekend, some commentators argued that gays are “natural conservatives“, and so it will be interesting to see if Republican GOP groups like the Log Cabin Republicans or GOProud will condemn these cuts since they would disproportionately affect the gay community.