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State Starves AIDS Foundation, Group Says

LOS ANGELES (CN) - AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which provides medical care to "the poorest, sickest and most vulnerable HIV-positive people" in the county, says the California Department of Healthcare Services demanded that the foundation renew its contract with 18 percent less funding-a price that allegedly doesn't even come close to covering medical costs.

The foundation says it limits enrollment to "the sickest of the sick"--patients with a "level 3 AIDS diagnosis." Folks in that category have "the most compromised and fragile immune systems of any person with HIV/AIDS ... and would likely die within a year" without appropriate care, according to the lawsuit.

But the department's funding demand is so skeletal that the foundation says it may have to interrupt care for some of the most vulnerable patients.

The foundation claims that it has saved California "tens of millions of dollars" over its 15 years of operation, while providing more services than the state could. According to the complaint, the foundation covers every medical service each member needs, but charges the state between one and five percent less than the cost of the services.

California paid the foundation $1,666 per patient in 2007. It claimed that it would raise that payment by 10 percent in 2008, before announcing that the foundation must continue providing the same services for $1,367 per patient, the foundation says.

The foundation is represented in Superior court by Tom Myers and F. Brian Chase.

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