AIDServe Indiana’s Assets Seized to Reduce Debt
Indiana's Fifth Third Bank has "seized" approximately $175,000 in AIDSWalk donations raised in October by AIDServe Indiana to pay off part of the $400,000 debt the now-closed agency owes the bank, the AP/Evansville Courier & Press reports. AIDServe board member Coby Palmer explained, "The bank took the walk money because the loan came due," and expressed his concerns that the seizure will harm future AIDS fundraisers. Diana Grey, executive director of the Damien Center, a regional AIDS organization, said, "I think it's going to be hard for anyone to do an AIDSWalk this year. It's clearly out in the community that AIDSWalk money was taken by the bank and did not go to the people it was supposed to go to, and clients suffered because of that." AIDServe was the only statewide agency that served low-income residents with HIV/AIDS and provided services to 800 to 900 clients with an annual budget of $5 million. The Indiana State Department of Health also contracted with AIDServe to administer federal grants to approximately a dozen groups in the region, but ended all contracts when AIDServe Director Mark St. John resigned last November amid allegations he had mismanaged the agency's funds, effectively "shutting down the agency." According to Michael Butler, director of the health department's HIV/STD division, the department has "continued to provide direct medical assistance and housing assistance, the things we consider essential services," for former AIDServe clients, and is also working to repay the regional organizations for outstanding expenses that the agency failed to pay. AIDServe plans to file for bankruptcy, Palmer said (AP/Evansville Courier & Press, 2/22). Palmer and AIDS activist Jack Batty are organizing a new group, Indiana Still Cares, which will plan and operate AIDS fundraisers but not contract with the state health department or distribute federal funds. Palmer blames part of AIDServe budget problems on delayed reimbursements from the health department, which he contends owes the agency $250,000. An audit is underway to "resolve the differences" (Barton, Indianapolis Star, 2/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.