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Deep Concerns About AIDS Network Grows

May 29, 2009

I have heard lots of chatter about  the news story in the Isthmus last week regarding the AIDS Network .  People are wondering, and rightfully I think, about the status of one of the important health care non-profits in Madison.  There seems to be legitimate questions posed from knowledgeable sources about the mission and capabilityof the AIDS Network.  When the AIDS Network makes their appeal for funds, and I suspect lots of my readers locally get requests in one fashion or another for donations to the Red Ribbon event or the bike ride, we want to know that there is a serious effort by the agency to provide all that is promised for their clients.  I suspect we want our money to be used credibly, and consistent with the high-flowing language that comes with the solicitations.  After reading and talking with others over the past week I have even more concerns about this agency than I already had.

When we read the following we have to wonder what is going on.

Last August, the state found that only 12% of AIDS Network’s clients had an annual reassessment, required for all. It directed the group to increase this to 90%, which it appears to have done.

The state also found that AIDS Network was improperly reimbursing health-care providers at their billed rates, not the lower Medicaid rates, as required. Milward bristles that the state didn’t seek reimbursement for the extra costs.

AIDS Network has a current annual budget of $1.8 million, and last year had 425 clients; it also provides legal service and prevention programs.

If you have followed the political turf battles in the Statehouse and government agencies over AIDS Network and ARCW, you will appreciate the level of disgust that is raised by those who want to better understand what is happening.

Greg Milward has taken up the charge to look into the inner workings of the AIDS Network.    As a former AN board member he had this to write on his website.

When I resigned from the AIDS Network Board of Directors on May 5, 2008 I stated in my letter of resignation that “We have allowed the paranoia of past and present staff and volunteers regarding the possibility of “merger” to cloud our judgment. We have missed an opportunity to create a positive working relationship with ARCW out of fear that someone may raise the issue of merger. Having said that, please recognize that if in the future the needs of the clients of AIDS Network or the larger HIV/AIDS community would be better served by ARCW, I will be among those in the HIV/AIDS community that will lead the charge to openly discuss the possibility.” For those that would like to read my letter of resignation, I have posted it on the site.
After resigning I set out to learn as much as I could about the “secrets” of AIDS Network. To that end I met with Dr. Vergeront and Michael McFadden and shared with them my concerns regarding the agency. Several site visits followed and there were reports (posted on this site) that uncovered a wide array of problems within the agency. There were documented cases of reassessments that were not done; medical reimbursement overpayment’s; failure to follow established policies regarding transportation reimbursements, inaccurate quarterly reports and client counts along with other items of profound concern. 
It was after learning of all of these issues; issues that had gone unchallenged for years that I made the decision that the only way to ensure that 1234 residents of Wisconsin who are living with HIV/AIDS could receive quality HIV services would be through the defunding of AIDS Network and the reallocation of the grant funds to the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.
4 Comments
  1. June 1, 2009 7:07 PM

    First, I think Death’s Door Vodka Martini was a serioulsy poor choice for the AIDS Network Director Bob Power to have tried to use for an event as a sponsor. Mr. Power often made poor choices when in charge of the agency. The ones throwing the “hissy fit” were those that were clients, and thought it a bad tone for a sponsor to have at a gathering where many in attendance had a life threatening ailment.

    What is lacking is a total sense of honesty about a whole series of issues that have been percolating for years within, and about the AIDS Network. The spotlight has been turned on, and I suspect will be turned up. And that is good. The object first and foremost should be the clients, and the educational needs of the community that the AN serves, or claims to serve. I am interested to see these issues brought to the surface, and light shined where it is needed.

  2. Sasha permalink
    June 1, 2009 4:26 PM

    I don’t see what the concern is over. At least people are getting services. Many others or not. I’m happy to donate money (when I can) to organizations that are still around to help those in need. No organization is perfect and from what I’ve seen in the Isthmus and on the Wisconsin HIV website, it looks like they are working on making improvements and acknowledge where they are lacking. That’s a good sign to me.

    I find it interesting, there was an article a while ago about an AIDS Network using a liquor company as a sponsor for an event and someone throwing a big hissy fit over it, but now I see that ARCW’s AIDS walk is being sponsored by MillerCoors? That concerns me.

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