October 7, 2015 — The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday stopped providing numerous county health departments and other facilities with testing for sexually transmitted infections, the Chicago Tribune reports.
According to the Tribune, Illinois in its last budget year spent $10.2 million on testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV and syphilis. Some providers offered testing at no cost to patients, but local health care departments are not required to do so by the state, according to IDPH spokesperson Melaney Arnold.
Providers first learned of the termination in an August letter attributing the decision to "decreased financial and human resources." Arnold said the termination of services was permanent. According to the Tribune, the state decided to end the services because it needed to prioritize "more complicated testing" for biological threats and outbreaks of disease.
IDPH said health care providers could hire commercial private laboratories to offer faster and more affordable STI testing. Arnold added that many facilities would be able to charge the federal government under Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) for such services.
Many providers in the state now are seeking new laboratories. According to the Tribune, the new laboratories are expected to charge providers more than the state did, especially for providers that offer services regardless of whether patients can afford to pay.
One such provider, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, sent the state tests for an average of 21,000 individuals each year. A lobbyist for the group, Pam Sutherland, said, "We begged them not to do this," adding, "It's a partnership that we hate to see go away" (Garcia, Chicago Tribune, 10/5).