Indianapolis Star Examines Federal Investigation of AIDServe Indiana’s Use of Ryan White FundsAIDServe Indiana and other AIDS organizations across the country, "cited for mismanaging federal money," have "caught the attention of Congress," the Indianapolis Star reports. In 2001, Congress appropriated $1.8 billion in Ryan White CARE Act funding intended to assist underinsured people living with HIV/AIDS, but many AIDS organizations are now accused of "squander[ing]" some of that money for a variety of reasons ranging from "mismanagement to theft." In 1998, AIDServe was awarded a contract to administer the disbursement of Indiana's allocation of the federal grant, named after teenager Ryan White, who lived in Indiana. According to the Star, AIDServe was the only organization serving the roughly 900 Indiana residents with HIV/AIDS through a statewide network of service providers. But the organization closed in November due to "growing pressure" from the state and a "river of red ink" and filed for bankruptcy last month with outstanding debts of $922,000, the Star reports.
Federal Investigations Nationwide
Federal authorities are now investigating the state Department of Health, which was responsible for overseeing AIDServe. Joni Albright, assistant health commissioner, said that the department is also conducting its own audit of AIDServe and will assume accountability for "whatever responsibility" the federal audit determines. She added that "most" medical providers have been repaid, but that other services, such as transportation of patients, have not been reimbursed. The AIDS Foundation of San Diego faced similar problems in 1996 and filed for bankruptcy a year later with $1 million in debt. However, officials there "moved quickly to stem the damage" and held public hearings on the matter. Twenty-five thousand people in New York City filed a class-action lawsuit against the city after they had difficulty accessing housing and medical care. A federal judge ruled in favor of the New York City patients, saying that the city had violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by failing to provide "meaningful access to critical subsistence benefits and services." New York's services has been placed under federal monitoring for three years, and the city plans to appeal. Observers said that "swiftness" of the epidemic, medical advances that have allowed people with HIV to live longer and "governmental inattention to a growing need for more coordination and oversight" of AIDS service providers have combined to cause the "deteriorat[ion]" of many service organizations (Williams/Barton, Indianapolis Star, 7/5).