Washington, D.C., AIDS Clinic To Sell Property, Begin Charging for Services To Combat Budget Deficit
The Washington, D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Clinic, which provides HIV/AIDS testing and related health services to mostly low-income area residents, last week announced plans to sell some of its property and begin charging clients for services to combat a projected $800,000 budget deficit, the Washington Post reports. The organization's cash reserves are expected to drop to nearly zero by the end of the year, and the group's bank line of credit has been cut by nearly 50%, leaving the clinic with insufficient cash to operate through spring 2004, WWC officials said. The organization's 35-member board approved the changes to avoid having to seriously cut clinic services or close altogether, officials said. The amount of money gained from private fundraising has dropped in recent years; the group's annual AIDS Walk Washington raised only $100,000 in 2002, compared with $1.7 million in 1997. In addition, WWC was forced to end its relationship with the long-distance AIDSRide -- one of its most lucrative annual fundraisers -- after the event's promoter, Pallotta TeamWorks, was criticized for "lavish spending," according to the Post.
WWC officials say they plan to cut administrative overhead and reduce the size of the clinic's 285-employee staff, cuts that should save more than $1 million a year. In addition, officials plan to sell two of the clinic's transitional housing buildings and a building containing mainly administrative offices. Residents from the housing units will be moved to other clinic properties. Also, the clinic next month will start charging for some services and will more aggressively seek reimbursement for fees covered by clients' private insurance plans. Under the new sliding-scale system, clients could be charged as much as $166 for gynecological exams, $169 for basic screening for sexually transmitted diseases and $95 for HIV testing, with fees for other services being phased in by spring. However, because the majority of the clinic's clients are low-income, most will pay a nominal fee, if anything, officials said. Although officials hope the measures will allow them to end the year with a $360,000 surplus, further cutbacks may be necessary if federal funding levels also decrease (Salmon, Washington Post, 9/19).