Big changes ahead for ASOs

AIDS agencies have to look for ways to branch out if they want to survive and thrive under health care reform

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

An estimated 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and 20 percent of them are not even aware of it, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And a CDC report released in early August suggests that there are about 50,000 new HIV infections each year.

And yet, federal funding for HIV/AIDS services have remained flat for the last five years — from funding for medical services to research dollars to money for support services — according to Raeline Nobles, executive director of AIDS Arms Inc.

And that means, Nobles and Resource Center Dallas Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox agreed this week, that the nonprofit, community-based organizations that have been the backbone have to look ahead and keep their options open to remain viable.

Changes in the way that federal funds through the Ryan White CARE Act are distributed — requiring that 75 cents of every Ryan White dollar be used for core medical services — give an edge to nonprofits that operate clinics. And that means that AIDS Arms, which just opened its second clinic last month — is “more competitive at the national, state and local levels,” Nobles said. “With the number of people who are uninsured and living at poverty levels, access to any kind of medical care is a priority. So if you are providing those kinds of services, it does give you an edge.”

Agencies that don’t provide those kinds of services, she added, can get in on that competitive edge by collaborating with those that do.

“There’s really no new money to sustain new agencies,” Nobles said. “AIDS is definitely off the docket in terms of diseases people seem to be concerned about. In fact, any HIV provider across the country who is not considering all their options is in a great deal of denial, and that may well come back to bite them rather severely.”

There’s also health care reform to consider, with several parts of the law passed in late 2010 still to be implemented. That reform, said Cox, is changing the face of community health clinics, like RCD’s Nelson-Tebedo Clinic, and HIV/AIDS service programs.

“Our nutrition program is a good example,” Cox said. “It has really been hammered in terms of federal funds, so we have focused on supporting the program through the community, foundations and corporations. … It is an amazing puzzle we have pieced together, even with cuts in traditional funding streams. But we have managed. We have done the things we felt we had to do.”

And there are more changes coming. Nobles said that if the Ryan White funds survive beyond 2013 when more health care reform measures go into effect, “it likely won’t include any money for outpatient services like we offer” at the Peabody Clinic and the new Trinity Clinic.

“So we have to take a look at what we do best, and we can use our model and globalize it into different areas. We have to become even more sustainable. Diversification of business is key to survival,” Nobles said. “It can’t just be about HIV and AIDS any more.”

Nobles said “serious discussion has been going on at AIDS Arms for at least two years, at the board and staff levels” about how the agency can expand its focus beyond HIV/AIDS and remain viable.

“We have to diversify our business plan. The situation has been serious for awhile and it is becoming even more serious for our board,” Nobles said. “We hope to have, by early 2012, a final business plan in place to move into the future.

“Health care reform is a great thing for a lot of people, but it poses real challenges for the nonprofit sector. You have to stay ahead of the curve, or health care reform will run right over you. We definitely want to stay ahead of that curve,” she continued. “The HIV nonprofit community has the best model of care and support the U.S. has ever seen. That model can be globalized to include care for other disease — heart disease, cancer, diabetes.”

Cox said that staff and board members at Resource Center Dallas also began planning for the changing future some time ago, and its current capital campaign to build a new facility is part of the plan.

“Nobody seems to have all the answers right now. The feds won’t say what they will and what they won’t fund. So savvy business people are already thinking, ‘If this funding goes away, what can we do instead?’” Cox said.

“Everybody feels like the challenge working in the nonprofit sector is that you are always aware there is so much more that needs to be done,” she added. “But doing more requires more space, more staff, more resources. And to have that, you have to build the business in a way that is sustainable. And you have to remember, nobody can do everything.”

Both Cox and Nobles are quick to remind that even though their agencies are “nonprofits,” they are businesses nonetheless, and have to be operated with an eye toward success.

“There has been, and probably still is, the mindset about nonprofits. People expect the nonprofits to be there to provide all these services without caring about costs,” Cox said. “But the fact is, nonprofit or not, these agencies have to be run like a business. You have to anticipate, plan ahead. You have to put the structures in place and you have to invest. We make large investments in our staff and in technology. For-profit business sell stock and they answer to their stockholders. We get our money from our donors, and we have an obligation to let our donors know what we do with their money and to let them know we use it responsibly.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas’ Pete Sessions violates Constitution on same day it’s read from House podium

Pete Sessions

Anti-gay Dallas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions reportedly violated the Constitution on the same day it was read from the House podium.

The Huffington Post reports that Sessions, along with freshman Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., missed Wednesday’s swearing-in ceremony because they were at a private fundraiser. They watched the ceremony on TV with their hands raised, but there’s no provision in the Constitution for a remote swearing-in. The Rules Committee was forced to adjourn Thursday because Sessions made a motion to take up a repeal of health care reform without having been sworn in as a member of Congress:

Emily Davis, a spokeswoman for Sessions, said that Sessions rectified the situation Thursday afternoon, after it came to his attention that he had not been properly sworn in. “During the swearing in of the 112th Congress, Congressman Sessions stated the oath publicly in the Capitol but was not on the House floor. To ensure that all constitutional and House requirements are fulfilled, Congressman Sessions officially took the oath of office this afternoon from the House floor. Public records and votes will be adjusted accordingly,” she said.

UPDATE: To make matters worse, Sessions reports on Twitter that he’s on the radio this afternoon with bigot Chris Krok, who famously mocked Joel Burns’ “Its Gets Better” speech:


—  John Wright

AIDS Arm’s Red Ribbon Society hosting discussion on impact of health care reform law

The Red Ribbon Society of AIDS Arms will host a dinner and “lively panel discussion to address the facts and impact of Health Care Reform on you, your family and your business,” Red Ribbon members have announced.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15, in the Magnolia Room at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, 3520 Oak Lawn Ave. Seating is limited and those attending must R.S.V.P. to Kris Martin by the end of the day on Friday, Sept. 10. The invitation I got here at the office did not include information on the cost to attend. But I bet you can find that out by e-mailing Kris at kmartin@aidsarms.org or calling her at 214-521-5191, ext. 373.

The panel discussion will feature Arnold Doyle, senior director of professional affairs at Tibotec Therapeutics; attorney Michael Regier, senior vice president of legal and corporate affairs at VHA Inc.; attorney Scott Chase, certified in health law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; and Dr. David M. Lee with Uptown Physicians Group and Baylor University Medical Center.

The Red Ribbon Society was created in 2005 for individuals who contribute $1,000 or more on an annual basis toward the programs, research and clinical care at AIDS Arms. For more about membership, go here.

—  admin

4 good reasons to vote for Democrats

Dire warnings won’t mobilize LGBT voters, but signs of progress made, and progress yet to be made, should provide good reasons to bring the community out to the polls

Since the 1980 election, Democrats’ favorite voter mobilization tool when faced with a bad election year is to issue dire warnings of what might happen if “they” take over. Instead of repeating apocalyptic prophecies, I thought I would point out a few reasons why the

LGBT community here in Dallas should be enthusiastic about our Democratic ticket and go to polls this year with gusto!

It is certainly no secret that many in the gay community are disappointed by the frustratingly slow progress repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) or the Defense of Marriage Act. It is not unreasonable to believe that substantial Democratic majorities in both houses of congress should have resulted in immediate progress.

However, considering the year-long titanic struggle to pass a modest health care reform bill, passing legislation has proven to be enormously difficult.

Shortly after President Obama put repeal of DADT at the top of the nation’s agenda in his State of the Union Address last January, the House passed the Murphy amendment in May. The good news is that the Senate will be passing its own version in the next few months.

Our Democratic Congress is poised to finally eliminate the most insulting anti-gay policy on the books 58 years after it was first instituted. And for that, we can put aside any lingering cynicism and impatience and go to the polls knowing that the LGBT community’s support for the Democratic Party has been well worth the investment.

This year we can have our greatest impact on the future direction of Texas and Dallas County. I’ve identified just a few things the LGBT community has at stake and why it is more important than ever that we get out and vote.

1. We have the opportunity this year to elect and re-elect two capable, openly gay candidates. Electing supporters is great, but nothing beats electing your own.

As your Dallas County district clerk, my exemplary stewardship of the office is well known and a matter of public record. I have saved taxpayers millions in cost-saving initiatives, come under-budget every year since I took office, and initiated innovative new projects to bring Dallas County into the 21st century.

Of the 67 elected judges in Dallas County, not one is openly gay, in spite of the many LGBT members of the bar. This year we have the opportunity to change that by electing Tonya Parker to the 116th Civil District Court. Parker is a young, successful and energetic attorney who is already a rising star.

Parker has the kind of talent that leads to the federal bench, but she cannot get there without the enthusiastic support of this community both financially and on Election Day.

2. By electing Elba Garcia, we have the best chance in 16 years to unseat a county commissioner who has proven time and again that he is no friend to our community.

For those of us who live in North Oak Cliff, Dr. Garcia is a household name. We are proud of her outstanding leadership on the Dallas City Council, and I can think of no other candidate better suited for the Commissioners Court.

Of all the races on our ballot, this is the one where LGBT voters can have the greatest impact.

3. It is critically important for this community to stand up for its allies and friends. Judge Tena Callahan’s courageous ruling in a gay divorce case last October proves that judicial philosophy matters. Her integrity and courage is just the kind of thing we need to keep on the bench. Supporting Judge Callahan not only shows our gratitude, but also gives us the chance to stand with the litigants and their attorneys who rejected the prophets of pusilanimity and asserted their rights under the law regardless of the outcome.

4. The experience of the LGBT community since the beginning of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s has proven to us that government plays a vital role in ensuring the health and safety of citizens. Reps. Allen Vaught, Carol Kent and Robert Miklos are legislators the LGBT community can be proud of.

In District 105 in Irving, we have the opportunity to elect Loretta Haldenwang and replace an incumbent whose ethics are ill-suited for public office.

The Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, under the outstanding leadership of Erin Moore, have an aggressive plan to get-out-the-vote and communicate this message to voters. They need your financial support and your time now.

We Democrats have much to be proud of over the last two years. We have passed legislation that offers a real alternative to Republican politics of anger and ignorance. We have only just begun to set a new course for our future.

We here in Dallas live big and dream even bigger. Dallas never apologizes for success; we never hide it. LGBT voters are an important part of the Democratic Party’s success and we have good reason to be enthusiastic about our ticket.

Gary Fitzsimmons is openly gay and the district clerk for Dallas County. He is also a co-founder of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 10, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Texas Sen. Cornyn involved in effort to overturn same-sex marriage in D.C.

cornyn_dickhead
I’m not sure who deserves credit for this masterpiece, but I found it at http://refinish69.blogspot.com.

Not surprisingly, our junior U.S. senator joined an effort late last night to tack an amendment onto health care reform legislation that would require the District of Columbia to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage. Chris Geidner at Law Dork reports that the amendment, introduced by Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, was defeated in the wee hours by a roll call vote of 36-59. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who once equated gays to “box turtles,” was one of the backers of the amendment. Bennett’s proposal was one of many “poison pill” measures that Republicans tried to attach to the reconciliation package, in an effort to force the House to vote on health care reform again. While Bennett’s amendment failed, DCist notes that it’s probably not the last time we’ll see an effort in Congress to reverse marriage equality in D.C. And if and when it comes up again, I’m sure Cornyn will be among those leading the charge.

—  John Wright

President signs health care reform bill …

… but it doesn’t include any of the LGBT-specific provisions that had been in the House version.

But the good news is that gay U.S. Rep. Barney Frank says passage of the health care reform bill clears the way for Congress to begin consideration of ENDA as early as next month.

Read Lisa Keen’s story about it here.

—  admin

Health care reform statistics

Parkland Hospital
Parkland Hospital

As the health care reform bill comes to a vote – maybe – how is Dallas doing as far as health care coverage?

Not good at all. And as more people lose their health insurance, the more they rely on the overloaded Parkland emergency room for primary health care.

Here are some statistics supplied by by the National Journal.

Of the 435 congressional districts in the United States, the one with the most uninsured people represented by a Republican?

Pete Sessions’ Dallas district — 32.6% of people in the district are uninsured. Sessions has led the opposition to health care reform in the House of Representatives.

The Republican district with the fifth most number of uninsured people in the country is Kay Granger’s in Fort Worth — 23.7% of the people in her district have no health insurance.

Three of the six districts with the most uninsured people are in Texas. Two are in South Texas. One is here in Dallas – Eddie Bernice Johnson’s district has 39.9% uninsured.

But even if you have health insurance, will your insurance company pay the claims. Here’s a story from this week’s Dallas Voice that may make you worry about your own coverage.

—  David Taffet