Friday, May 05, 2006

It depends on what the meaning of 'equal' is

HIV patients deserve the same high-quality medical care no matter what region of the country they call home. If that's the general gist of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions' proposal to reallocate more federal AIDS money to the South, where HIV rates are growing steadily in many places, then I can support the idea. But if the Alabama Republican's legislation seeks merely to equalize the per-patient spending figures without regard to the higher costs of fighting and containing the disease in more urbanized states, or to cut back on the AIDS fight there, then I have a problem with it.

Of course, the fairest way to improve the national fight against AIDS would be to increase the South's funding without extracting money from other regions. But when it comes to spending on social programs, the people running Congress these days always seem to remember the giant deficit that keeps slipping their minds whenever it's time to vote for another tax cut.

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