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West Virginia

W.Va. state Senate advances bill to charge for HIV testing

Thursday, March 7, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Facing pressure from shrinking federal funds, the West Virginia Senate advanced a bill Thursday that would allow local health departments to charge patients for testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The bill is part of an effort to shift costs away from states and toward patients and private insurers.

Loretta Haddy, the director of epidemiology at the state Department of Health and Human Resources, said that the bill is necessary to allow local clinics to continue operating.

“The only way we can deliver basic public health services is to amend our legislation to allow local health departments to charge for delivery services,” Haddy said.

Haddy said that because of the budget cuts and the coming Affordable Care Act – which will increase the number of patients with insurance – states are being encouraged to transfer costs to insurers.

“The reason we’re being encouraged to do it is because the federal f unding is being cut year after year,” Haddy said. “And there’s no end in sight.”

Currently anyone in West Virginia can get free STD tests and treatment from local health departments. The funding for those services comes primarily from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has had recent budget cuts.

Over the last two years, West Virginia has lost about $617,000 in federal money for its HIV-AIDS program. Much of that money was shifted from West Virginia to states with higher HIV rates.

Despite the funding cuts, local health departments have continued to provide basic testing and treatment free of charge.

Under the proposed bill, local health departments would charge patients for STD testing, but would continue to provide free or reduced testing and treatment for the uninsured.

West Virginia’s HIV rate is the 16th lowest in the country and is well below the national average, according to CDC data. Its rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea are also significantly below the national average.

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14 more reader comments:

  1. messed up

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 4:21pm
  2. Really West Virginia? REALLY?!!! Are you hoping to shrink the size of your population?

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 4:24pm
  3. What. The. Fuck.

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 4:28pm
  4. Misleading headline. Yes, it will affect HIV testing, but it will affect all STD testing, not just HIV. The headline makes it sound like it’s targeting a particular group. From what it looks like, WV has done a very good job of controlling STDs in the state and should be commended. Other states should look at what they’ve done and see if there is anything that can be done to mimic such success rates.

    What should WV do? They are losing money because the CDC is reducing the money they are giving WV? So what should be done? Somehow, someway, these things have to be paid for. So what should they do? I’m sure they would be open to suggestions as well, especially from their citizens.

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 4:29pm
  5. Yes, this will help curve HIV. NOT

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 4:31pm
  6. @Robert. You sir are an idiot.

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 4:32pm
  7. West Virginia is fucked up.

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 4:37pm
  8. But, they will not charge for background checks for those wishing to purchase firearms?

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 4:40pm
  9. Don’t have sex in WV….

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 4:41pm
  10. Yeah that should bring them rushing in to be tested

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 4:52pm
  11. Talk about pure idiocy!

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 4:59pm
  12. Not a good idea, especially in a low-education state like WV!

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 5:03pm
  13. This is why we need Planned Parenthood. They do STD testing and treatments for a sliding scale fee (which is really cheap) and on some occasions I believe for free.

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 5:28pm
  14. WTF!

    Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 9:05pm