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Archive for Saturday, January 11, 1992

FEE FOR AIDS TEST LIKELY

January 11, 1992

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The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department may have to start imposing a fee for tests for the virus that causes AIDS, says the department's director.

Kay Kent, director of the local health department, said state reimbursement for AIDS tests is being cut. Instead of receiving $20 per test, the department will be reimbursed $5 per test through June.

After June, the state won't reimburse health departments at all.

"I'm not at all happy," Kent said, adding that she planned to meet with Lawrence's legislative delegation today to express her concerns about the funding cuts.

The local health department has in the past offered AIDS testing free of charge. Although Kent stressed that no one will be turned away for inability to pay, she said there's still a risk that a fee will make people hesitant to be tested.

The board of directors for the local health department will meet Jan. 20 to discuss the funding situation, and probably will decide to charge a fee for HIV tests, Kent said.

The cuts come at a time when the number of people requesting tests has increased.

AIDS testing increased last year from 1990, especially after basketball star Magic Johnson announced in December that he had tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

In 1990, 392 people were tested for the virus at the local department, and 547 people were tested last year, Kent said.

Kent said the department will "find the money somewhere" to make up the fees of people who cannot afford them.

"I do believe it's an extremely important service," she said. "People need to be tested."

In addition to being upset about funding cuts money for AIDS education also was trimmed Kent said she was disappointed in the state's delay in notifying health departments about the cuts. Local health department funding for AIDS education was cut $1,145 by the state, from $7,566 in 1991 to $6,421 this year.

Kent said the $5 per test contract with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment began Jan. 1, and she wasn't notified about the cuts until the end of last year. Kent said it would have helped if she had received word earlier.

Kent said other health department directors expressed similar complaints at a meeting of the executive committee of the Kansas Association of Local Health Departments.

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