LSU Doubts Ability to Pledge Ryan White Matching Funds; Advocates Lobby State to Provide More Money
The Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Health Care Services Division, which provides the bulk of the state's share of Ryan White CARE Act matching funds, has expressed uncertainty about whether it can provide its portion of the funding needed for fiscal year 2002-2003, leading AIDS advocates to urge the state government to increase its share of matching funds, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports. Louisiana will receive approximately $17.8 million in federal Ryan White funding for FY 2003-2003, but the state must contribute $8.9 million in matching funds to avoid losing some of the money. The state government has pledged $1.7 million -- the same amount as last year -- toward the funding. LSU Health Services is expected to contribute the remaining $7.1 million, an increase of $700,000 from last year. LSU health officials are concerned that they may not be able to provide all of the matching funds because of a new federal rule that limits Medicaid funding for inmates' health care. LSU Health Services has traditionally been allowed to include existing spending on HIV/AIDS services and treatment in its contribution to Ryan White matching funds. But Marsha Daigle, planning director for LSU Health Services, said that the new rule will prevent LSU from using Medicaid funds to provide HIV/AIDS drugs to prisoners, decreasing the amount that LSU contributes to the Ryan White fund. However, Daigle said that it is "much too early to tell" whether LSU will be able to come up with its contribution. Richard Womack, a board member of the Louisiana Commission on HIV/AIDS, said that the Legislature needs to be aware of the issues that HIV/AIDS service providers must deal with and must allocate more funding for HIV prevention and treatment. Beth Scalco, administrative director of the state Office of Public Health's HIV/AIDS program, said that she is "relieved" that the state agreed to contribute the same level of Ryan White matching funds as last year because tight budgets have led to cuts in many other health department programs. The Advocate reports that the New Orleans and Baton Rouge metropolitan areas consistently rank among the top cities in the nation for AIDS case prevalence (Wold, Baton Rouge Advocate, 3/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.