TALLAHASSEE (January 16, 2019) Thousands of vulnerable individuals living with HIV in Florida are at risk of losing the lifesaving, sensitive care and services they need, given hasty decisions made by former Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Positive Healthcare (PHC), a non-profit, managed healthcare plan administered by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest provider of care to people living with HIV and AIDS in the world, has provided needed coverage for thousands of individuals living with HIV, in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, Florida since 1999. After Rick Scott and his team at Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) decided not to renew the PHC contract thus denying care to this vulnerable population, the organization was forced to take legal actions to protect thousands of its patients living with HIV in an effort to reverse AHCA’s decision. PHC’s challenge to Rick Scott and AHCA’s ill-founded decision was initially vindicated. In December 2018, a state Administrative Law Judge ruled in PHC’s favor, finding that the AHCA failed to follow proper procedure in reviewing and scoring bids to contract as health plans for patients with HIV and saying the agency should re-do the process to select HIV specialty plans. In a stunning rebuke to the ALJ, the Scott administration refused to accept the judge’s ruling and moved ahead to exclude PHC from remaining a health plan for people living with HIV/AIDS.
PHC will be asking the Florida District Court of Appeals to reverse the prior governor’s decision and was hopeful that the court would issue a stay in the matter preventing AHCA from moving forward with new contracts until the matter has been fully reviewed. Unfortunately, the Court recently declined to issue such a stay.
Though legal actions in regards to this issue are still in process by PHC, late Tuesday evening, the organization received notification that the agency is moving forward with contracting with Simply Healthcare, a for-profit company, while excluding PHC, the only non-profit that provides the critical care that those living with HIV need.
“Former Governor Rick Scott showed no leadership on addressing the critical healthcare needs of those living with HIV, even given the devastating impact of this epidemic across the state, as leading the nation in terms of new HIV diagnosis. The hasty actions of AHCA exemplify the complete disregard for this vulnerable population of our community that permeated throughout the Scott administration,” stated Michael Kahane, AHF Southern Bureau Chief.
AHF believes that providing care to this vulnerable population is a priority to Governor DeSantis, unlike the former administration. As the new leader of the state of Florida, Gov. DeSantis can set a response to this epidemic as a priority and take leadership on ensuring that all of the people of Florida have a right to choose their medical provider. By immediately intervening and continuing AHCA’s contract with PHC, Gov. DeSantis can also ensure that this type of frivolous action that negatively interferes with the sensitive care that those living with HIV need to stay alive is not upheld.
According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
HIV/AIDS in Florida:
- Florida ranked 1st among the 50 states in the number of HIV diagnoses;
- Three Florida cities made the top 15 cities nationally, when it comes to number of people with HIV. Miami is at the top of the list, with Jacksonville and Orlando at the tenth and 11th spots, respectively; and
- Miami-Dade and Broward counties ranked top in the nation of new HIV diagnosis
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over one million individuals in 43 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: @aidshealthcare