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Ryan White Planning Council Eliminates Funding Food Boxes

Contact:               John Sapero, Ryan White Planning Council           602-506-6321

                            Jeanene Fowler, Public Health:                              602-722-1806 (cell)

                                                                                                                               

Ryan White Planning Council Eliminates Funding Food Boxes

and Congregate Meals Beginning October 1

 

PHOENIX (July 23, 2012) -- Due to a projected 13% increase in the number of economically disadvantaged clients needing HIV medical care, the Phoenix EMA Ryan White Planning Council approved a directive this month to terminate funding for food boxes and congregate meals beginning October 1, 2012. Clients receiving Ryan White Part A funded services at AGAPE Network and Compassion in Action will be transitioned to alternative food assistance providers.

The federal Ryan White Part A Program has prioritized the use of grant funds to provide HIV-related primary medical care. Remaining funding may be used to offer supportive services. “The Council had to make some emotionally difficult, but responsible and necessary decisions at this month’s meeting,” said Randall Furrow, Chair of the Planning Council. “We are faced with a projected shortfall of $586,000 in Outpatient Ambulatory Medical Care services. Our primary responsibility is to ensure that every HIV positive client who needs medical care gets services.”

In addition to the elimination of funding for food boxes and congregate meals, the Planning Council approved the reallocation of funding from several other service categories. These services will be decreased, but not eliminated.

The local Part A Program is experiencing unprecedented increases in enrollment. The number of newly diagnosed/new-to-care clients has increased by about 10% each year. The recent economic downturn has forced individuals who formerly had access to private medical care to seek assistance. AHCCCS (Arizona’s Medicaid program) implemented eligibility changes last year, such that single, childless adults no longer qualify for AHCCCS, and those who miss their yearly eligibility renewal deadlines cannot reenroll. For many individuals with incomes near or below the Federal Poverty Level, Ryan White Part A is now the only medical assistance program they can turn to.

Furrow said that since the Planning Council was formed in 1997, its members have worked diligently to ensure that people living with HIV in the Phoenix EMA have access to a full continuum of HIV care services.

“Every Council member and the Part A Program staff are deeply committed to our HIV community. We’ve had planning sessions that have lasted as long as 12 hours. In the past few years, the Planning Council has been able to stretch Part A resources to help people who are out of work due to the economic downturn. Unfortunately, there are now so many people needing medical care that the Council has had no choice but to cut or eliminate supportive services,” said Furrow.

The Ryan White Part A Program will work with providers to inform affected clients and transition these individuals to other food assistance programs in Maricopa and Pinal counties.

The Phoenix Eligible Metropolitan Area (EMA) receives approximately $7.5 million each year to provide HIV-related services to more than 3,500 clients in Maricopa and Pinal counties. The Ryan White Planning Council is a community group that has been appointed by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to plan the organization and delivery of HIV services funded by the federal Ryan White Part A legislation. Members represent the general public, people living with HIV, Part A service providers, and other health and social service organizations.

For more information, contact John Sapero, Planning Council Program Coordinator, at 602 506-6321 or via email at planningcouncil@mail.maricopa.gov

 

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