AIDS and the Bush legacy

The January 2 editorial from the New York Times, titled “Mr. Bush’s Health Care Legacy,” contains some interesting comments on our soon-to-be-former-president’s achievements.  While noting that the Bush administration delivered a “weak performance on many important health care matters,” the NYT adds that “President Bush can also lay claim to some signal achievements in health care — achievements that we urge President-elect Barack Obama to continue and develop further.”

The editorial really caught my eye with the following passage:

As we have argued in the past, Mr. Bush deserves high praise for significantly increasing American support for the global effort to control AIDS. We were pleased that Congress has now authorized even more money than Mr. Bush proposed: almost $50 billion to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis around the world over the next five years. But there is little doubt that the president has played a key role in providing drug treatments or supportive care to millions of patients who would otherwise have gone untended.

It is a remarkable record for the leader of a party that had been reluctant in the Reagan era to deal with a disease whose victims at the time in this country were primarily gay men and injection drug users.

While Bush’s “legacy project” is (rightly) viewed as a cross between a joke and a disaster by most observers, I have noticed that PEPFAR is almost always mentioned as one of the few genuine highlights of this presidency.  And, as the NYT article points out, this legacy is particularly striking when you compare it with the dismal record of earlier Republicans (and, for that matter, Democrats) in addressing the issue.

The editorial also mentions the addition of new prescription drug coverage under Medicare, the expansion of community health clinics, and the decision to allow Massachusetts to pursue a universal health insurance program as other Bush-era health care achievements.  You can read the whole article here.

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~ by h.e.g. on January 5, 2009.

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