LOS ANGELES (March 30, 2023) – AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest provider of health care services to people living with HIV and AIDS, will be allowed to proceed with its lawsuit against Michelle Baass, Director of California’s Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), for her violation of AHF’s constitutional rights.
In June 2022, California abruptly cancelled AHF’s Positive Healthcare (PHC) plan—a 28-year-old program offering specialized managed care for people living with AIDS. The Director and DHCS stated they terminated PHC because AHF sent a November 2021 letter to PHC enrollees urging them to contact DHCS directly to advocate for the continuation of PHC which was set to end December 31, 2021. The Director called the letter an improper negotiation tactic and alleged that it “scared” enrollees into thinking PHC would terminate as it was scheduled to do. AHF sued, alleging violations of the First Amendment. The court issued a preliminary injunction, and on December 21, 2021, AHF and DHCS reached an agreement to extend the contract through December 31, 2022.
“In November, when granting an earlier AHF Motion for Preliminary Injunction in its case against DHCS and Michelle Baass, the Court held that AHF showed a likelihood of success in its claims that DHCS violated AHF’s constitutional rights, including AHF’s right to speak freely on important matters of public concern,” said attorney Andrew F. Kim (Kim Riley Law) who filed the initial lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction. “Today’s ruling confirms that likelihood of success. We look forward to moving ahead to trial with this matter.”
AHF will continue with the lawsuit to prove on the merits that the Director violated AHF’s constitutional rights. AHF will continue to provide lifesaving and cost-saving care for those who need it most.
“Judge Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong again upheld AHF’s right to speak up and urge action on behalf of the Positive Healthcare members we have been serving for decades,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AHF. “We acknowledge and thank her for her ruling today and vow to continue advocating for our clients and patients.”