Norfolk, Va., HIV Treatment Network Runs Out Of Funds Due to Revocation of Ryan White Funds After Billing Dispute
Eastern Virginia Medical School AIDS clinics on Friday ran out of Ryan White CARE Act funding, but clinic providers said that they will continue to treat patients who have urgent needs for another month, the Virginian-Pilot reports (Szabo, Virginian-Pilot, 4/12). A contract dispute between Norfolk officials and clinic doctors regarding billing practices resulted in the revocation of the clinics' Ryan White funds. EVMS clinics use a billing method in which doctors receive a set fee for each patient, a practice that is reportedly not allowed under federal government regulations. As a result, the clinics, which are the primary source of HIV/AIDS care for 1,200 of the area's uninsured and underinsured patients, lost their Ryan White money. Dr. Edward Oldfield, director of infectious disease at EVMS and founder of the system of satellite clinics, said that the billing practice has been in place for three years and does not violate federal regulations (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/4). Oldfield said, "Over a decade, we had set up a system that worked very well, and now it's collapsing." Currently, EVMS officials are working on changing their billing methods to meet the city's demands, and they planned to submit a new proposal yesterday. Norfolk City Manager Regina Williams said, "As soon as we receive that proposal, I'm committed to reviewing it and turning it around within a day." Now that the EVMS clinics are closed, local health departments say that they do not have the capacity to treat large numbers of HIV-positive patients. City officials said that patients can receive treatment at a clinic in Norfolk and one in Newport News, although neither clinic has an infectious disease specialist on staff. Patients who need specialized care can be referred to other providers, according to the Virginian-Pilot (Virginian-Pilot, 4/12).
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