New Orleans AIDS Planning Council To Determine How To Spend Ryan White CARE Act Money Following Funding Cuts
A New Orleans Regional AIDS Planning Council committee plans to meet on Thursday to determine how to spend this year's Ryan White CARE Act funding for the New Orleans metropolitan area, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. The region will receive almost $6.8 million this year, which is $539,000 less than last year's appropriation, the Times-Picayune reports (Pope, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/17). The grant is one of 51 federal grants totaling more than $595 million for cities nationwide to provide care and support services for low-income HIV-positive people. The grants, which are overseen by the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration, are funded under Title I of the Ryan White CARE Act. Funding amounts are based on a formula using the estimated number of people living with AIDS in each city, with supplemental grants awarded competitively based on the "demonstration of severe need" and other criteria. The grants cover physician visits, home-based care, hospice care, substance abuse treatment, mental health services, case management and assistance in obtaining medications for HIV-positive people who have partial or no health insurance. Forty of the 51 grants for this year were lower than last year's funding levels, with cuts ranging from 3% to 14% (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/2). Currently, there are 7,145 reported HIV cases in the New Orleans area -- up 9.4% from 6,533 cases in 2001. However, because the funding levels are based on the number of AIDS cases, the city "didn't get a 9.4% increase in funds," Beth Scalco, administrative director of Louisiana's HIV/AIDS program, said. Scalco added that the cut in federal funding for the New Orleans area does not necessarily affect the federal funding level for HIV for the state of Louisiana, according to the Times-Picayune.
The cuts in funding for New Orleans could result in cutbacks to HIV/AIDS programs and services in the area, including a dental clinic administered through Charity Hospital, one of the hospital campuses of the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans, the Times-Picayune reports. Kathleen Lincoln, manager of the HIV outpatient program at the hospital, said that the dental clinic could be "forced to close, possibly as early as the end of the month," as a result of the federal funding cuts, according to the Times-Picayune. Dr. Janet Leigh, clinical coordinator of the clinic, said that it is "one of the most vulnerable components" because it does not include primary care or administer antiretroviral drugs, the Times-Picayune reports. New Orleans-area HIV/AIDS group NO/AIDS Task Force also may have to reduce or eliminate some of its services, including its food bank, home-delivered meal program, substance abuse program and emergency assistance program, NO/AIDS Task Force Executive Director Noel Twilbeck said. He added, "There's a commitment to fund primary medical care, case management and prescriptions. After you fund that, everything else is up for grabs -- up to a point" (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/17).