Kansas City Mayor Appoints New Panel to Oversee AIDS Spending
Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes has appointed a new 15-member panel to investigate the way the city allocates its $3.3 million annual HIV/AIDS federal funding, the Kansas City Star reports (McGuire, Kansas City Star, 7/18). The change was prompted by a "scathing" letter federal officials sent to Barnes in March alleging that the city Health Department had failed to spend its funding, earmarked for AIDS drugs and minority health care. The city Health Department is responsible for administering the funding over the 11-county area bridging Missouri and Kansas. On the local level, the funds were dispersed by the Ryan White Planning Council, which includes mayor-appointed AIDS patients, city officials and representatives from AIDS service organizations. The Star reported in June that the council had planned to send federal officials a letter detailing the spending priorities for this year's grant, but Council Chair Marva Miller refused to sign it. Instead, Miller drafted her own letter alleging that the funds, including $34,500 intended for minority AIDS services, were not spent during the last fiscal year. The city Health Department refused to send the letter, saying it was "inaccurate" and had not been endorsed by the council. In addition, the department said that "bureaucratic delays" prevented the funding from being spent and that the remaining funds would be spent this year, if the federal government approved (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/12). The new panel, which includes 11 members of the Ryan White Planning Council and four community representatives, will be chaired by Roger Gooden, a former council chair. Donovan Mouton, a "neighborhood advocate" in the mayor's office, will attend meetings and serve as the mayor's liaison. Health Department representative Frank Thompson will also sit in on the meetings, but neither Mouton nor Thompson will have a vote. The panel's first meeting is scheduled for July 25, with Barnes requesting that the panel have recommendations prepared by the end of August (Kansas City Star, 7/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.