Orange County, Fla., Officials Deny Federal Funds for Not-For-Profit AIDS Resource Alliance
Orange County, Fla., officials on Monday rejected a "last-ditch" effort by Orlando-based AIDS Resource Alliance to gain federal Ryan White CARE Act funding, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The not-for-profit group, which offers health care and counseling, as well as assistance with rent, utilities and transportation, to HIV-positive patients, was appealing the county's February decision to deny its grant request, but the county's three-member review panel said that the group's "financial footing is too wobbly," according to the Sentinel. The panel also said that it based its decision on recent leadership changes and "financial clouds." The group has had four directors in the past year, and Medicaid officials in 2002 told the group it had overbilled the federal government by at least $400,000, the Sentinel reports. Although the state attorney general's office said it would settle the issue for about $63,000, Marc D'Aoust, executive director of AIDS Resource Alliance, said that the group faced up to $1.4 million in fines. The group was seeking around $300,000 in funds from the county, which will distribute a total of about $2.4 million in federal funds to other agencies that provide services for HIV/AIDS patients. Without the funds, the group might have to lay off half of its 25 full-time employees, according to D'Aoust. He said, "I'm devastated. We've got to make some drastic changes." Syd McCallister, a senior contract coordinator on the panel, said, "I think they are dramatically short of being a financially viable agency. I feel like, again, we are grasping at straws" (Damron, Orlando Sentinel, 3/4). In March 2001, AIDS Resource Alliance also faced controversy over grant applications. The group, one of the largest providers of AIDS services in Orlando, was denied federal funds for turning in its application 59 seconds late. Several other agencies were also denied funding for submitting late proposals (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/28/01).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.