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AIDS Overspending Continued for Months

October 06, 1995
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY _ More than half of an AIDS fund's $1.6 million debt was accumulated during the program's 1994 budget year _ well before runaway spending was halted in September, according to an internal audit recently released by the Missouri Health Department.

Previous estimates had put the 1994 budget year's deficit at only $200,000. Instead, the audit found 1994's overcommitment of funds was about $900,000 by the time that budget year had ended May 1, 1995.

Earlier reports indicated that the program's debt was almost exclusively the result of overspending between April and September of this year.

The 1995 budget for the program was $2.2 million, some of which was used to pay the 1994 bills, said Health Department spokesperson Nancy Gonder. An additional $1.6 million was spent or committed in 1995 before the department detected the problem and halted spending in early September.

Health Department officials have consistently blamed the debt on a lack of controls and inadequate monitoring. However, the conditions of the grant from the federal government under the Ryan White CARE Act require the state to submit both quarterly and yearly financial status reports.

These reports were submitted. But Gonder said she could not say why funds continued to be committed. "We did not overspend in 1994. We overcommitted our funds," she said.

The audit did not indicate why, in the process of preparing these reports, the department did not realize it was committing too much money.

The department had contracts with St. Louis and Kansas City to administer money given to local agencies by the federal government under the Ryan White CARE Act. These contracts also required various reports to be submitted.

According to the audit, the St. Louis reports were not submitted for 1994. For 1995, the reports were submitted only after the St. Louis Consortia requested them, and they were not prepared until August. Kansas City has not yet designed a format for the reports, let alone received them according to the audit.

Other problems the audit cites include:

* Authorization of services was not monitored in comparison to funds available.

* Necessary information was not entered into the computerized monitoring system.

* Reports generated by the computerized monitoring system were not used or seen by the correct people.

* Some services could have been paid for by other sources, such as Medicaid.

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