SFGate.com (San Francisco) (03.07.13)
With pressure from lessening federal funds driving their actions, the West Virginia Senate pushed forward a bill on March 7 that would allow local health departments to charge individuals fees for STD testing. According to Loretta Haddy, director of epidemiology with the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources, for the state to deliver basic public health services, legislation must be amended to allow local departments to charge for delivery services. Haddy explained that, due to budget cuts and the coming Affordable Care Act, states are moving to transfer costs to insurers. Currently, anyone in West Virginia can receive free STD testing and treatment at local health departments; however, throughout the last two years, the state has lost approximately $617,000 in federal funding for its HIV/AIDS program as the federal government has shifted money to other states with higher HIV rates. Despite the funding cuts, local health departments have continued to provide services free of charge; under the proposed bill, they would charge individuals for STD testing but continue to provide free or reduced-cost testing and treatment for those who are uninsured.