AHF asserts Dallas officials failed to follow their own rules notifying AHF of any issues with its grant applications; dispute plays out while 7,565 people living with HIV/AIDS in Dallas County are out of care.
On February 23, 2015, Dallas grant evaluators recommended over $1.1 million in AIDS funding be awarded to AHF for outpatient medical care; however, on February 25th, a County official disqualified AHF’s applications. Sticky note newspaper ad campaign highlighting the HIV care disparity in Dallas began Thursday in the Dallas Morning News.
DALLAS (July 10, 2015) Dallas County officials are being challenged in court and in public over what AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) asserts are significant failures by County officials in the County’s handling of the grant application and request for proposal (RFP) process in Dallas for federal AIDS funding channeled through local Dallas County authorities. After a months-long process during which County officials kept changing the reasons for their rejection of AHF’s grant applications, AHF filed a formal grievance with Dallas County on March 10, 2015 and filed—but did not serve—a lawsuit seeking similar relief from the state court. AHF currently operates three outpatient health care centers for people with HIV/AIDS in Texas—two in the Dallas/Forth Worth area, the third in Houston.
In its grievance and lawsuit, AHF asserts that Dallas County officials failed to follow their own rules in notifying AHF of any potential deficiencies in AHF’s RFP and grant applications, as required under the Vendor Certification Requirements (VCR) Process set forth by the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department. In the County VCR document, under the subsection ‘VCR Oversight,’ it states that, “Agencies/vendors with incomplete VCR packets will be notified in writing what documents are missing and how soon it will be needed.” AHF asserts in its grievance and lawsuit that it was never properly notified of any potential deficiencies in its grant applications.
On February 23, 2015, Dallas grant application evaluators recommended over $1.1 million in Ryan White CARE Act AIDS funding be awarded to AHF for outpatient medical care; however, on February 25th, Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk disqualified AHF’s application, “…from further consideration.”
“An unfortunate irony in this situation is the fact that this AIDS funding dispute in Dallas plays out at a time when 7,565 people living with HIV/AIDS in Dallas County are out of medical care and treatment,” said Bret Camp, Texas Regional Director of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “The County was not following its own rules regarding awarding of contracts so we are trying to make the public aware and hold County officials accountable.”
Toward that end, AHF began a sticky note newspaper advertising campaign in the Dallas Morning News highlighting the HIV care disparity in Dallas with the headline, “Dallas County HIV Crisis: 7,565 Not in Care.” The headline is superimposed over a graphic of an iceberg—above and below the waterline— with a request to call Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, one of the highest ranking elected public officials overseeing Dallas County government, including its health services department. The sticky note ad first ran Thursday in the Dallas Morning News and will run both Friday and Sunday, July 12th.
“It wasn’t until July 2nd—well after AHF had filed a Freedom of Information Act request—that AHF finally received documents with one crucial document indicating that the External Review Committee evaluating Dallas County grant applications had, in fact, recommended that AHF be awarded over $1.1 million in funding for outpatient medical services under the Ryan White CARE Act Part A,” said Jonathan Petrus, Western Bureau Chief for AHF. “These federal dollars, distributed through local authorities like Dallas County, are intended to increase access to medical care. It begs the question: how many of those 7,500 individuals out of care in Dallas could be brought into care if county officials had followed their own policies in awarding these lifesaving funds?”