Another day, another shrill Drudge headline. On Monday, Drudge put up an unflattering picture of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), accompanied by the headline, “PELOSI SAYS BIRTH CONTROL WILL HELP ECONOMY.” His conservative fans in Congress, of course, quickly went on the attack against the sensible family planning provision in the House economic recovery package, and in an effort to compromise, President Obama agreed to drop the provision.
Drudge’s newest attack today focuses on the legislation’s provision to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases:
Democrats may have eliminated provisions on birth control and sod for the National Mall in the “job stimulus” — but buried on page 147 of the bill is stimulation for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases!
The House Democrats’ bill includes $335 million for sexually transmitted disease education and prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.
Aside from the fact that many conservatives are squeamish about giving money to anything associated with sex, they seem unable to grasp the concept of preventive care and how it can help lower government health care spending. The $335 million provision to help stop the spread of STDs is part of a Prevention and Wellness Fund in the economic recovery legislation.
In 2006, CAP President and CEO John Podesta and Jeanne Lambrew — who is now a top health care adviser in the White House — proposed a similar idea. This fund would support clinically-proven prevention and wellness strategies that, in the end, would not only improve Americans’ health and productivity, but also lower U.S. health care costs. As Podesta and Lambrew explained:
Preventive health care service could reduce government spending on health care. If all elderly received a flu vaccine, health costs could be reduced by nearly $1 billion per year. Over 25 years, Medicare could save an estimated $890 billion from effective control of hypertension, and $1 trillion from returning to levels of obesity observed in the 1980s.
Some reasons that increased funding for STD prevention specifically will ultimately save the United States money:
— Increase workforce productivity. More than 56,000 people become infected with HIV/AIDS each year. The CDC estimates that the new infections cost the country $56 billion in medical care and lost productivity.
— Lower health industry costs. STDs, some of the most preventable diseases, cost the U.S. health care system as much as $15.3 billion annually.
— Lower federal government costs. The federal government is expected to spend $12.3 billion on HIV/AIDS-related medical care in 2009.
What’s more disturbing is that a new report by the CDC finds that the spread of the most common STDs — which are more likely to hit women and minorities — are on the rise. Obama has made clear that the economic recovery package is about getting people back to work; it’s hard for people to work if they’re struggling to get care for an infection.