Norfolk, Va., Government Has ‘Botched AIDS Care,’ Virginian-Pilot Editorial Says
Norfolk, Va., city government officials have "inexcusably ... botched AIDS care" for uninsured and underinsured patients in the area, according to a Virginian-Pilot editorial (Virginian-Pilot, 5/1). A contract dispute between city officials in Norfolk and doctors from the Eastern Virginia Medical School's AIDS clinic network regarding billing practices resulted in the revocation of the clinics' federal Ryan White CARE Act funds in April. EVMS clinics use a billing method in which doctors receive a set fee for each patient, a practice that is not allowed under federal government regulations, according to Shirley Tyree, a city employee in charge of the disbursement of Ryan White funds. 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, have lost their Ryan White funds and last month notified patients that care may no longer be available (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/4). The clinics' closing has left patients to "fend for themselves in an already-overwhelmed public health system unprepared and ill-equipped to treat them," the editorial says, adding that patients no longer have access to HIV/AIDS specialists, "must settle for new doctors with less expertise" and have even lost access to some pharmacies. According to the Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim (D) has said that he is "flustered" over the situation and plans to renew talks with EVMS President Dr. Sumner Bell. With the city "distributing AIDS dollars hither and yon," there is "little time to spare" for patients, the editorial says, concluding, "Renewed talks are a start. But it's not enough" (Virginian-Pilot, 5/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.