Cumberland Times-News

April 8, 2013

House committee: W.Va. health departments can’t charge for HIV tests

DAVID GUTMAN
Associated Press

— CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Shrinking federal funding and the Affordable Care Act are forcing West Virginia to reconsider how it pays for HIV testing, but local health departments will not be able to charge people or their insurers for those services.

A bill that would have allowed health departments to begin charging for tests for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases was overwhelmingly voted down by the House Health Committee on Monday. The Senate unanimously passed the bill 10 days ago.

The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion and insurance subsidies will mean more people will have health insurance that pays for programs like HIV testing. It also means less money for programs for people who remain uninsured.

In the last two years, West Virginia has lost more than $600,000 of federal money for HIV-AIDS programs. Some of those cuts were planned, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shift grant money to states with higher HIV rates. Other cuts are the result of decreased federal spending. And funding is expected to decline more as a result of the automatic budget cuts that took place March 1.