President Bush's fiscal 2005 budget proposal, due to Congress on February 1, will include $38 million in additional funds to fight AIDS domestically, Health and Human Services secretary Tommy Thompson announced on Friday. The bulk of the increase--$35 million--will go to support state-run AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. The remainder will go to the HIV/AIDS in Minority Communities Fund. Total ADAP spending in Bush's budget will be $784 million, enough to pay for medications for about 100,000 people. But ADAP officials say the program needs an additional $215 million this year alone to eliminate waiting lists and other restrictions currently enacted or expected to combat budget shortfalls.
Thirteen states already have closed enrollment to new patients, forcing as many as 700 people onto waiting lists for the lifesaving medications. A proposal by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to cap enrollment for the California ADAP could force more than 1,000 more onto a waiting list. Bush administration officials called the planned boost in AIDS spending "good news," The Washington Post reports, but the increase in ADAP spending is only 4.7%, the smallest percentage increase for the program since Bush took office.