D.C. Council Member Allows Health Department More Time To Pay Not-for-Profits Serving HIV/AIDS Patients
Washington, D.C., City Council Member David Catania (I) on Friday gave District of Columbia Department of Health officials five additional days to find solutions to problems that cause delays in reimbursements for organizations that serve the area's HIV-positive population, the Washington Post reports (Levine, Washington Post, 5/21). Catania originally set May 20 as the deadline for a proposed plan, but Deputy Mayor Neil Albert said the city needed additional time (Associated Press, 5/20). Albert said he will be directly involved in developing a plan to address the administration's "continuing and lengthy delays" in reimbursements to not-for-profit organizations, according to the Post. He also said the department will process or pay all bills by Friday. Catania urged city officials to hire a private firm to manage its reimbursements and expenses, and Albert said he will consider the idea, the Post reports.
Catania's call for a proposed plan came after the Washington, D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Clinic, which provides HIV/AIDS testing and related health services to mostly low-income area residents, announced that it is facing financial constraints that might force the group to consider program cutbacks. The clinic -- which serves about 7,000 HIV-positive individuals in the Washington, D.C., area and has a $29 million budget for 2005 -- earlier this month failed to meet its payroll for the first time since it opened in 1974 (Washington Post, 5/21). Whitman-Walker Interim Executive Director Roberta Geidner-Antoniotti said that a series of budget and funding problems have contributed to the organization's financial problems, including more than $700,000 in late reimbursements owed to the clinic by the district health department and the housing agency of Prince George's County, Md. (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/19). The health department's failure to pay reimbursements on time also has led the Carl Vogel Center, which provides case-management and counseling services for about 700 HIV/AIDS patients in the city, to reduce staff and cut back program services. Center officials recently voted whether to temporarily close the center if it does not receive more than $144,000 in reimbursements, but the board voted not to shut down, according to the Post (Washington Post, 5/21).