Budget Problems May Force Closure of Broward County, Fla., HIV/AIDS Clinic
A not-for-profit AIDS clinic run by the Wansiki Foundation in Broward County, Fla., may have to close because of financial problems, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. The clinic, founded 14 years ago as an "underground medicine-buying club," provides primary care services, case management and counseling to about 1,000 people with HIV each year. The clinic has been losing money "for years," partly because it does not deny treatment to any person, the Sun-Sentinel reports. About 33% of the clinic's patients are unable to pay for services. The clinic has not paid employees for at least three months, and some subcontractors said that the clinic has outstanding balances. The clinic is "struggling" to collect grants and medical payments, the Sun-Sentinel reports. County officials are withholding payments from a $500,000 Ryan White CARE Act grant until the clinic submits a 2001 audit, which was due last month. Kitty Sommerville, county director of substance abuse and health care services, said, "We want the agency to survive but we can't pay until we get the audit. We have to see where the money goes. We have to make fiscally sound decisions." Sommerville added that Broward County is "demanding more accountability from HIV/AIDS agencies" after officials recently were criticized for a lack of oversight. The clinic also has been unable to collect about $120,000 in Medicaid and Medicare payments because paperwork was filed incorrectly. County officials and AIDS advocates said that clinic founder Marie Wansiki is responsible for the clinic's difficulties. But Wansiki said, "I'm just trying to keep the doors open. We haven't done anything wrong, really. This is a combination of little errors. If we made mistakes, work with us" (LaMendola, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 5/18).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.