The question a lot of people have to be wondering with the upcoming new health care act is: who in the end will pay for all the costs? It sounds wonderful but in a real world, someone has to pay. With millions uninsured that now can recieve medical attention the cost will be passed on but where?
The International AIDS Conference brought that question up this week is whether all 34 million people in the world with HIV can possibly get antiviral drug treatment. New guidelines released at the Washington meeting call for everybody with HIV to be started on anti-retroviral drugs as soon as they test positive for the virus. New research shows that’s better for their long-term health, and it will help end the pandemic because people in treatment are less likely to infect others.
Dr. Bernhard Schwartlaender of UNAIDS is convinced it can be done. He pointed out in a plenary session speech that the economies of many of the world’s poorest countries are growing. “Let us not accept the notion that we cannot find the relatively humble resources to pay for the basic services that mean life for those in greatest need,” Schwartlaender told his audience. “The world overall is getting richer. We have to make it fairer.”
Schwartlaender offered up several possible ways to raise the money. A tax on shipping and aviation fuel could raise $64 billion — and help reduce global warming at the same time. A levy on financial transactions — some call it a Robin Hood tax — could raise $150 billion (but has been blocked so far by the U.K. and other wealthy nations). Schwartlaender also proposes tapping the fines levied on big pharmaceutical companies for their marketing practices.
Another conference speaker, Dr. Andrew Hill of Liverpool University in England, made a strong pitch for the same kind of taxes that many U.S. states already impose on alcohol and tobacco. Hill says money collected this way could solve a dire problem many countries will face as the U.S. and other wealthy nations pull back on AIDS funding.The tax could be as little as 1.5 cents on a bottle of beer and 10 cents on a pack of cigarettes. “The money collected would be enough to achieve universal access to HIV treatment in 10 of the worst-afflicted countries in the world — Russia, China, India, Brazil, Vietnam, Thailand, Ukraine — there are other examples,” Hill told Shots. “So it could go a long way. And it’s actually a very small increase [in] tax.”
It seems like alcohol and cigarettes always are taxed for some reason. I’m guessing that’ll be a huge fight with those industries if that angle is imposed. We’ll wait to see who pays in the end.