Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha, also pointed to a recent bill the House passed that allowed the state to increase the pay of the next DHHR secretary from $95,000 to $175,000. He thought some of that money could go to the program.
The tests are a subset of a larger problem, argued Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia. The bill would have been a small step toward finding money for local health departments, considering cuts at the state and federal level.
"I don't see this as a gigantic issue. I think what the headline is going to be is we're going to have some local health departments fold. I think that's the worry," Fleischauer said.
Swinker said the DHHR still plans to push for the change next year. She thought the atmosphere could change as facets of the Affordable Care Act begin to take affect.
For the time being, that means local health departments need to find a way to pay for the testing, Gupta said.
Last year the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department administered roughly 1,200 HIV tests and 2,400 STD tests, he said. It costs about $85 a patient for the STD tests, and the HIV program was projected to run about $100,000 next year.
"We have projected cost of $300,000 sitting here for next year," Gupta said of the combined costs.
Gupta guessed 40 to 50 percent of that cost could be recouped from health insurance companies if those with insurance were required to pay.
There were about 5,100 HIV tests administered statewide last year, Swinker said. There is a test that screens for the possibility of having the virus, which Swinker said typically costs $5 or less. If that test comes back positive, the test to confirm those results runs about $130 or $140, she said.
The cost for local health departments is associated with administering the test, not the actual test itself. Gupta and Swinker both said the DHHR typically conducts the actual test, but it can be expensive for the local health department personnel to get the specimen and items necessary to conduct the test.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously. Lead sponsor Ron Stollings, D-Boone, said Monday he was surprised the measure was defeated. A doctor, Stollings said he thought the sliding scale payment system made the bill "palatable" for everyone.
The bill also addressed payment for tests of people accused of committing crimes of a sexual nature. If someone is accused of sexual abuse, law provides that person must be tested within a 48-hour window. The bill would require the person to pay for the test.