Victory! Court Grants Writ Forcing FL Gov. Rick Scott to Publicly Disclose Calendar, Campaign Events

In Featured by Rachel Mills

Court rules Governor has 10 days to make public his electronic and hardcopy calendar, travel schedule, his place of residence and a list of all campaign and fundraising events scheduled for the periods of July 20, 2018 through October 31, 2018.

AIDS group sued in July after repeated public records requests to Governor’s office were denied, falsely claiming that the records were officially exempt from disclosure.

In a stunning rebuke to Florida Governor and Republican Senate candidate Rick Scott and a victory for public access to information about elected officlals’ schedules and campaign and fundraising events, the Circuit Court of the Second Judicial Circuit, in and for Leon County, Florida, today granted a Writ of Mandamus ordering the Governor to make records of his schedule, calendar and other events—including campaign and fundraising events—publicly available to AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) within ten days.

“This is a tremendous victory for the public’s right to know basic information about what the Governor is up to—who he is meeting with, where he is traveling, campaigning and fundraising both in his official capacity as Governor and in his current Senate bid,”  said Michael Kahane, Southern Bureau Chief for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Governor Scott should remember that part of the social contract of holding public office is that it is public. We thank the court for granting our petition for Writ of Mandamus and look forward to receiving information on the Governor’s schedule and events forthwith.”

In July, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the parent organization of Positive Healthcare, a respected non-profit which has been providing critical health insurance coverage for people living with HIV in Florida since 1999, filed a petition for Writ of Mandamus after its repeated public records requests to Governor Scott’s office were denied, falsely claiming that the records were officially exempt from disclosure.

Advocates from AHF and Positive Healthcare have been protesting—and trying to protest—Governor Scott after the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) failed to renew Positive Healthcare’s contract to cover Medicaid patients with HIV/AIDS in Broward and Miami-Dade, essentially denying critical healthcare coverage to those living with HIV/AIDS.

The organization has been calling out Scott in response to his and state Medicaid officials’ failure to renew an HIV care contract with AHF’s Positive Healthcare. AHF says the state’s move will recklessly disrupt care for a vulnerable population of nearly 2,000 Florida HIV patients.

In late April, Florida Medicaid officials announced the awarding of Medicaid contracts, worth up to $90 billion dollars, to five for-profit managed care plans, excluding several other companies, including Positive Healthcare (PHC), the only non-profit healthcare provider that offers insurance coverage for the critical, sensitive healthcare needs of those living with HIV.  As a result of the initial decision, several of the denied agencies, including PHC, filed formal protests with Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA), which manages the state’s Medicaid program, all challenging the state’s decision, citing severe defects in the RFP and decision-making process.  Following the submitted protests, state Medicaid officials met with each of the denied agencies, and subsequently have provided settlements with a select list of the for-profit providers, while continuing to shut out PHC. Positive Healthcare is the only non-profit agency focused is on providing care to thousands of clients living with HIV in Florida who rely on this critical coverage to get the necessary care they need, by the doctors of their choice, to live a healthy life.

While Scott and his cronies continue to play “business as usual” politics, the 2,000 HIV patients currently covered by PHC have become vulnerable to maintaining the care they critically need to stay alive, as they will be forced to choose for-profit companies that don’t cover the doctors they have come to rely on and trust for over a decade of quality, life-saving care. AHF and the numerous community supporters across the state that have come out in support of PHC, implore Governor Scott to put people first and not big for-profit businesses and give this vulnerable population a choice.

Scott’s irresponsible actions and lack of transparency occurs while the State of Florida, and specifically Miami-Dade and Broward counties, continue to rise as the nation’s epicenter of the HIV epidemic.  PHC, currently offers coverage to those living with HIV in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, which rank #1 and #2, nationally for reported cases of new HIV diagnosis.

The facts about HIV in Florida:

  • Nearly 5,000 people in Florida were infected with HIV in 2016 alone, which means one out of every eight new HIV infections in the United States occurred in Florida.
  • South Florida leads the nation in new HIV diagnoses at 38.7 new infections per every 100,000 people. In contrast, the overall rate in the United States is 12.3 new infections per every 100,000 people.
  • Nearly 136,000 Floridians are estimated to be living with HIV, but one in six is still not aware of his or her HIV-positive status.
  • More than 30,000 Floridians currently living with HIV are not receiving care for their infection.

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AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 978,000 individuals in 41 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare

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