- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS

D.C. administrators have agreed to fund beleaguered Whitman-Walker Clinic with $2.2 million from the Health Department budget, saving patients from sweeping service cuts.

The funding commitment came as D.C. Council member David A. Catania prepared to introduce an emergency proposal for the funds transfer. Mr. Catania said he withdrew the proposal after securing a commitment to offer the grant from City Administrator Robert C. Bobb, on behalf of Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

“I needed a firm commitment that there would be no reduction in services for District residents,” said Mr. Catania, at-large independent.

Mr. Williams agreed to disburse the funds by July 1, days earlier than he originally said he might, Mr. Catania said. The earlier disbursement will keep the clinic from having to suspend service for several days.

Officials at the clinic, which has undergone major layoffs, recently disclosed they didn’t have enough money to pay some staff members in May. The facility still is reeling from a scandal that put it millions of dollars in debt to government agencies it overbilled for laboratory work.

D.C. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat who once served as the clinic’s director, said he was grateful for the funding, but fears that it will be treated as a stopgap measure.

He said officials in the District and nearby suburbs — where the clinic has discussed discontinuing services — should sit down with insurers and philanthropic agencies to shape a sustainable budget.

“You have to be strategic in how this money gets spent,” he said. “Otherwise, they’re going to be back on our doorstep in no time.”


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