Chesapeake, Va., Health Department To Stop Providing AIDS Care Due To Loss of Ryan White Funds
Virginia's Chesapeake Health Department will stop providing AIDS care at the end of this month, after the Eastern Virginia Medical School, with whom the health department partnered to provide the care, lost its federal Ryan White CARE Act funds last month, the Virginian-Pilot reports. The department had provided care for HIV/AIDS patients for four years in collaboration with EVMS infectious disease specialists (Szabo, Virginian-Pilot, 5/9). A contract dispute between Norfolk, Va., officials and EVMS clinic doctors regarding billing practices resulted in the revocation of the clinics' Ryan White funds on April 11. 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 and had to cease operations (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 4/25). The Chesapeake Health Department had only enough funds to continue to treat AIDS patients until the end of May, according to the Virginian-Pilot. Norfolk officials had offered the department money to continue seeing AIDS patients this year, but Chesapeake turned down the funding. Dr. Nancy Welch, director of the health department, said that the agency could not continue to provide long-term HIV/AIDS care without the medical school's expertise. "It's very unfortunate that we can't get them to participate when we so desperately need to get patients in care," Shirley Tyree, Ryan White program director for the region, said, adding, "We can't force them to do it." EVMS doctors said that Norfolk officials have been unresponsive to patient care concerns, according to the Virginian-Pilot. "Surely someone is going to realize we need to correct this problem," Welch said, adding, "We can't let this quality program wither because of a bureaucratic glitch." Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim (D) and EVMS President Dr. J. Sumner Bell were expected to meet with city officials on Friday to discuss the issue (Virginian-Pilot, 5/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.