House Members Send Letter to GAO Asking for Investigation Into Management of Ryan White Funding, HIV/AIDS Crisis in Puerto Rico
Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) in a letter to Comptroller General David Walker called on the Government Accountability Office to investigate federal oversight of funds Puerto Rico receives from the Ryan White Program, the New York Times reports (Eckholm, New York Times, 6/12).
Puerto Rico receives about $58 million annually under Ryan White. Some clinics in San Juan in March began rationing drugs for hundreds of HIV-positive people after they stopped receiving reimbursements from the program. Ryan White invoices from Puerto Rican health agencies have received extra scrutiny since 2005 because of previous management issues. In addition, FBI agents in December 2006 raided four San Juan government health offices that manage Puerto Rico's Ryan White funds as part of a broader fraud investigation.
The Health Resources and Services Administration, which administers Ryan White funding, repeatedly has called for streamlining Puerto Rico's health care system and sent advisers to the island, Laura Cheever, HRSA deputy associate administrator, has said. Local physicians say that it takes months to obtain approval from the island's central government to switch a patient to a new antiretroviral regimen, adding that the new drugs often are not available. The commonwealth health department also often makes errors in antiretroviral distribution, some doctors say (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/5).
The letter calls on GAO to examine actions taken by HRSA in Puerto Rico to ensure that the funds are spent more efficiently. The letter, which cities testimony from community and patient groups in Puerto Rico and recent news accounts, also called on GAO to investigate what Velazquez and Solis call Puerto Rico's HIV/AIDS crisis (New York Times, 6/12).
The letter is available online.