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STD Prevention in the Stimulus Bill?

By JLP | January 29, 2009

The two sides of Capitol Hill appear to be engaging in a bidding war to see who can put more money toward the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases in its version of the economic stimulus bill.

The House included $335 million in its package. But the Senate, not to be outdone, provided $400 million in STD spending in its bill.

Someone please explain to me how STD Prevention belongs in the stimulus bill.

You can read about it here: Economic-Stimulus Bills Allot Millions for STD Prevention.

I wish our politicians (ALL POLITICIANS) would get a freakin’ clue and do what’s best for America rather than appeasing to special interest groups.

Topics: Miscellaneous | 28 Comments »


28 Responses to “STD Prevention in the Stimulus Bill?”

  1. SAH Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    That is ridiculous.

    Hope. Change. STD Prevention.

    “Change we can believe in.”

  2. JLP Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    I’m just tired of our politicians. None of them seem to know what they are doing.

  3. Miranda Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I am not impressed with the stimulus bill. And, honestly, most of the money spent on economic stimulus since 2007 hasn’t been approved in massive spending bills. We have spent right around $7 trillion (it will be $8 or $9 trillion when this passes the Senate) on economic stimulus so far. And for what?

    It would have been cheaper just to give every household $50,000. We’re going to have to pay the money back with interest, so it would have been nice to get something substantial.

  4. Rick Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    The blur between your APM and the AFM websites has finally made me unsubscribe to AFM.

    I came here looking for your articles to improve my life, not political banter.

  5. Traciatim Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Well, it’s obvious. If there is that much stimulation happening, someone is going to need STD protection…. especially tax payers.

  6. JLP Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Rick,

    You’re probably not reading this, BUT…

    We’re talking about an ECONOMIC stimulus bill. What does STD Prevention have to do with STIMULATING THE ECONOMY? It’s a legitimate question no matter what your political philosophy is.

    It ticks me off how ALL policians throw in special interests and pet projects into bills like these. They do this because there’s no accountability.

  7. Kevin Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    First, from the Times article, it’s 335million/819billion which equals…

    wait for it…

    0.04 percent of the cost.

    You’re getting your panties all tied up in knots up over 0.04% of the money being spent.

    Okay, 335 million here and 335 million there and pretty soon it starts to add up to real money, so let’s address the merits.

    The actual bill says, “..not less than $335,000,000 shall be used as an additional amount to carry out domestic HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually-transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis prevention programs, as jointly determined by the Secretary and the Director;”

    So, first of all, it’s not just STDs, it’s also HIV/AIDS (which is also transmitted by blood contact, not just sex), hepatitis, and tuberculosis (hey, remember this guy: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/jun/01/20070601-122910-8650r/). So how would health spending on these items help recover the economy?

    If we increase funding to prevention programs, then that money has to be spent on something: more researchers and health care workers to implement this prevention. More treatments which means money to manufacturers, which will mean more jobs as they hire workers to make the treatments. That means more jobs. Then if these programs do prevent these diseases, that will reduce health care costs because prevention is cheaper than cure. As Sarah Palin said, “…what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up the economy.”

    So, if you want to be sitting on a plane with the next person to have drug resistant TB or hepatitis, then by all means, keep complaining about this provision.

  8. YFNN Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    There’s nothing partisan about this post. I didn’t see left, right, conservative, liberal, democrat, republican, etc., mentioned at all. It’s a “spending money” post.

    This information is completely financial because WE PAY IT.

    Did Rick not want this information exposed, could he just not defend it, or what?

  9. Technocrat Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I agree with Rick on this one. I already subscribe to political blogs.

    As for the money, you could say this is nickel and diming, but it’s not even that–it’s roughly 1/2000th of the entire package! Forest, people, not trees.

    And actually, I don’t have much problem including STD prevention in the package. Public Health Clinics are struggling to stay afloat, and in many urban areas (where STD’s are most rampant) some are being shutdown altogether. You’re telling me that STD infections aren’t a national epidemic? If you don’t think so, it’s time to leave the cul-de-sac for a day or two.

    But let’s get to the dollars: the key word here is “prevention.” Prevention means that *education* about STD’s is being provided, which in turn helps reduce (though will never fully eliminate) the number of infections, which in turn reduces the number of unnecessary hospital visits (often by the uninsured), which in turn contributes to a more efficient health system and cheaper medical costs. Granted, it requires a lot more than reducing the number of STD-positives, but it’s not money wasted by any stretch.

    Face it, your money will be spent either way: choose prevention, or ignore it and subsidize somebody else’s ER visits for herpes and chlamydia.

    I know your guy didn’t win, but find something else to complain about already. Good luck with your blog–I think i’ll look elsewhere for financial advice from now on.

  10. BD Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Who do you think the special interests are here? People who hate disease? That’s a pretty large chunk of the population.

    It’s too bad they’re focusing on STDs only (I’d like to see some money for cancer research and that sort of thing too), but I guess they figure they have to start somewhere to undo the damage of abstinence-only sex ed.

  11. christopher Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Technocrat and Rick…

    Why do you come to a site that you don’t pay for and then try to tell the person how to run it. I just don’t get it. Economic Stimulus = Money = ALL FINANCIAL MATTERS…hmm that took me about 1.3 seconds to come to the conclusion that this makes sense to talk about on a Financial Website.

    JLP I agree. I think this is stupid. I don’t care if it’s .004% or .000000000008 percent. It’s money that could be spent elsewhere. Just because you are dealing in such a large amount of money that $300,000,000 is like $3 to us doesn’t mean it’s a smart way to spend the money.

  12. Jayme Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    i know pretty much nothing about politics but really even if they are pouring money into std prevention that will create jobs for many sectors, such as advertising, education and research.

    while this could be a nieve way to think, i like to assume the best

  13. shiwala Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Hmm…STD prevention might not be such a bad thing when the government is repeatedly f*cking us over! :)

  14. the weakonomist Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    I voted for Obama and some other Democrats, this is what happens when you vote in Dems. This is what they do.

    STD prevention, it’s called stop being a slut or use a condom.

  15. the weakonomist Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    oh wait, I get it.

    It’s a stimulus package, so they don’t want the population getting the wrong idea. Don’t want them to get TOO stimulated!

  16. Deb Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Having been in healthcare for over 25 years, I can tell you that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Now think of that in financial terms – preventing a serious health problem altogether, or at least treating it when it’s in its infancy or early stages, is much less expensive than the alternative. Public health clinics and health care services to the poor have been severely financially hit, in part, thanks to our previous presidential administration’s attempts to gut Planned Parenthood funding, public clinics, and other similar programs. We must disconnect our desire to become `morality police’ in regards to healthcare, and realize that we all benefit when preventive medicine is practiced (particularly in a fiscal sense).

    I am much more outraged at the auto makers and financial institutions getting billions in blank checks, with no strings attached, in the first round of bail outs. It’s inconcievable to me that CEOs and Execs are continuing to reward themselves with multi million bonuses and perks. I heard one talking head claim that those bonuses are necessary to retain top talent. Are you kidding me, in THIS economic climate!? Please tell me where else that `top talent’ is going to go on WallStreet, or elsewhere, in this economy!?

    I don’t believe in a golden parachute for dismal performance or irresponsible behavior. We should not have bailed out Citi or any other bank, and we should not have forced banks (Wells Fargo) to take the bail out when they didn’t need or want it. GM screams for mercy and assistance, yet they had a direct hand in killing energy efficient autos and hybrid/electric vehicles over two decades ago. Now that’s something to get ticked about.

  17. John Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Where was the outrage when Bush was wrecking the country you hypocrite? Now all of a sudden your outraged by this? Since you’re turning this into a political issue because you are using the weak analysis that it costs money, what about the $3 trillion Iraq war that your lover took us into? Of course, you fail to mention that.

    Show me an old post where you have this same outrage directed at Bush. You’re blinded by your own ideology.

  18. JLP Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    John,

    You fail to offer a reason WHY this should be included in a stimulus bill. This has nothing to do with economics.

    For what it’s worth, I was not a fan of Bush’s policies. Yes, I am a Republican, but that doesn’t mean I agreed with everything Bush did.

  19. Dan Says:
    January 29th, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    JLP,

    The economic point is that it is money spent. This is the entire point of the stimulus bill: spend lots of money. You may believe that spending the same amount of money somewhere else would be a better use of it, which is a legitimate issue. However, claiming that spending money on STD prevention and contraception and whatever else was in that section has no economic effect is obviously incorrect.

  20. Steve Braun Says:
    January 30th, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Good points on both sides. It’s great to see people debate the merits of our government’s spending policies. Isn’t that what makes for a vibrant republic? We all need to do a better job of examining ALL government spending and holding ALL politicians accountable. That’s how the system is supposed to work.

    It’s too bad that some folks (Rich and Technocrat being examples) can’t fathom the notion that our government actually impacts our personal finances.

    In fact, I have yet to find ANY personal finance publications or online resources that DON’T address the financial angles of government or politics. Go check out marketwatch, bloomberg, money, smartmoney, kiplingers, motleyfool, etc. Tell me you don’t see anything related to government or politics. It’s just a fact of life and there is nothing wrong with JLP including the financial elements of our government or politics.

    Besides, it’s JLP’s blog!!! If your brain is too small or narrow to handle anything that doesn’t fit your neat and tidy worldview, then just go elsewhere. But announcing your departure to the world by commenting on this blog only reveals your true colors — and they ain’t too pretty.

  21. tina Says:
    January 30th, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Oh man… it just makes me CRAZY how bad of a pork barrell this bill is. SO RIDICULOUS.

    I am not against STD prevention. But, it does not belong in a stimulus bill. And it amazes me what we let our so-called representatives do.

    We are faced with some real economic crises here. I fail to see where STD prevention qualifies as an economic crisis.

  22. Lindsay Downs Says:
    January 30th, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I rarely read the language of all the bills that come out of congress, but I think this is one that we should all read. They have buried so much in this “economic stimulus” package that we at least need to know what is coming…

    For instance, did you know that in this bill, Illegal Immigrants will receive checks of $500 per person? Now, I’m not sure what the qualifications are to receive this money, but just the fact that it is being offered to someone who is not a citizen makes me angry, considering I am paying for it.

    For what it’s worth, I think the fact that this provision is part of an “economic stimulus package” (which is supposed to affect all of our FINANCES) makes this a financial issue. That’s just my personal opinion…

  23. Joe Says:
    January 30th, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    It’s funny… I usually love the smell of bacon but this just turns my stomach.

  24. kitty Says:
    January 30th, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Deb, you may be working in health care, but you clearly don’t understand epidemiology. Otherwise, you’d not say” that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Now think of that in financial terms – preventing a serious health problem altogether, or at least treating it when it’s in its infancy or early stages, is much less expensive than the alternative.”
    Do you understand a concept like Number Needed to Treat (NNT) or Numbers Needed to Screen (NNS)? Do you understand that in order to, for example, catch one case of disease early – assuming that this early detection makes a difference which is not always the case, you often need to screen hundreds, even thousands of people for 10 years? Do you know that during the same 10 years, a large percentage of these people will experience at least one false positive that leads to invasive and more expensive tests? Do you know that only a tiny percentage of these false positives will be a real positive? Have you ever heard of “overdiagnosis” i.e. catching a very early case of cancer that may not have progressed in person’s lifetime if remained undetected but at present there are no ways to say which case will progress? Do you know that most screening programs has some overdiagnosis, and that results in the increase in incidence i.e. more people treated. Are you aware that New England Journal of Medicine actually had an article on the subject that actually studied the issue of prevention and cost-savings and found that while some measures may be cost saving (usually life style related) others are quite expensive and that as a whole prevention doesn’t save money. Yes, treating one case early may be cheaper than treating it late. But testing thousands to save money on one is not at all cost-saving.

    Now, I have nothing against prevention – we all want to be healthier and take advantage of measures that can benefit us. But just because something is beneficial or has some chance of saving your life doesn’t mean it is cost-saving.

    Back on subject. This bill is supposed to stimulate the economy, not just spend money on “good things”. I see very little in this bill that actually going to create jobs or stimulate the economy. STD prevention is a good thing and maybe very cheap, but it is irrelevant to the economic stimulus. Yes, it is small, but it is indicative of the fact that this package contains mostly everyones “pet project” that does nothing for the economy. There are a number of these small expenses in the package that don’t lead to job creation, and they add up.

  25. Meg Says:
    January 30th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    It’s not just the $400M to STD prevention; I heard on CNN this morning that only 3% of the entire bill was being spent on infrastructure and things we “know” (over time) will stimulate the economy.

    The rest may or may not be worthy spending, but it’s not stuff that will – based on any study we’ve ever done – stimulate the economy.

    That’s what’s so disappointing to me. Instead of doing their best to uplift and empower our economy, our congressmen (ALL of them, as JLP has had to repeatedly state) are falling all over themselves to throw a big fat bone to their lobbyists and campaign donors.

    PS this bill is going to double our annual debt service (interest payments) to over $400B. That’s per year, every year. That expense alone rivals Iraq war spending – except it will continue INDEFINITELY.

  26. Deb Says:
    January 30th, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Kitty, I do understand what you are saying. But thanks for the edification, always appreciated. Yes I am aware of the study you mentioned. Personally, I’ve been on the receiving end of an early CA dx and fortunately had a physician who believed in conservative treatment, as did I.

    I digress here a bit…

    I do find it odd that STDs, of all issues, would be singled out in this bill. I do not necessarily agree with that pork. In general, as I mentioned, I would prefer to see more economic support for public/community clinics, particularly as the numbers of uninsured explode as unemployment rises. Every 1% increase in unemployment equals 2.5 million more uninsured, and one is 20% more likely to die without health insurance.

    Job creation should be the crux of this stimulus bill, I agree, and in an ideal world, that’s what it would be. Just as importantly, this country NEEDS to address the immediate problem of the rising ranks of uninsured. Taxpayers are already footing the bill for the those who present to EDs with pneumonias, out of control diabetes, unmanaged hypertension, noncompliance due to economic/access issues, etc. Even insured people are putting off basic healthcare altogether.

    Our hospital has adjusted it’s projected patient growth down to 1% from 5%. Loss of revenue, losses in investments, rising uninsured.

    500 people were laid off this week – that’s 3.5% of our employees. More layoffs to come this fall. Across this city, most hospitals have a hiring freeze. The healthcare field is not immune to a recession. Earmarking some of this stimulus for health care coverage DOES effect jobs. Basic prevention and easier access should be part of a stimulus focus because that does effect health care related jobs.

    There is a lot of pork in this stimulus package. Is anyone surprised? We’re turning to the same people who helped over-deregulate, who helped push home ownership for those who couldn’t afford it, who promoted a casino style economy – asking them to solve a problem they helped to create.

    Thanks for your input, Kitty. Though we may not agree on everything, you did raise some very good points.

  27. thomas Says:
    January 31st, 2009 at 12:16 am

    political? Sure. Financial? Absolutely. We all come here to learn how to save and make money, so whether JLP posts a BOGO coupon or talks about a government policy that will increase a deficit that taxpayers are responsible for by 10% it’s relevant.

    Lots of items in this bill are fundementally great – improving the Arts, protecting our National Parks, etc, but this isn’t the time for it. These are items that should come up in budget talks, not a stimulus package.

    You can’t call a spending plan that won’t have an impact for 2-3 years and still not have a solid number on how many jobs it will create stimulus.

    Take your life as an example. If you lost your job, do you go out and buy a new computer to do your job search? What about renew that annual park pass? What about run some $100 bills off your Epson inkjet? No, because that would be silly. You cut spending and try to get (not make) more money.

    This is an agenda bill not stimulus. If you are a Democrat and want these programs then that’s great, but don’t try to patronize me and suggest this is going to help me. This bill is exactly that – a bill, and it’s one that you, your children and grandchildren will end up paying for.

    As for the cost of each item, sure they may be a tiny percent but that doesn’t mean it has no value. Ever move into a new house? Man those Target bills add up, even though it’s “just $40 here, $40 there.” When was the last time you held a trillion dollars? Don’t be gullible people.

    Thanks JLP for trying to shed some light on this. Just because the election was in November doesn’t mean we should not care about what politicians are doing with OUR MONEY.

  28. Linda Marie Says:
    March 15th, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    This is just one part of preventative care our government is working towards. Our nations spends more money on health care than any other country in the industrialized nation. If we could focus more on preventing illness (STD’s, heart disease, etc) then it would save us a lot of money in the long run. In 2003 our nation spent $5,805 per person on health care costs in general. So this is a good thing for our politicians to look at and review. This will save us money in the long run. I am sorry that it is frustrating for you and I understand the frustration. Most of the bills that concern STDs are more interested in family planning, STD’s included. As a nurse who has first hand experience in what goes on in our health care system I must admit that I support all preventative care offered.

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