The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration’s headquarters in Tallahassee were the site Thursday of the third demonstration in as many days by supporters of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
A group of about 30 people from Northwest Florida gathered to protest the state’s decision to block the nation’s largest nonprofit AIDS health-care provider from South Florida’s Medicaid managed-care market.
Through its managed-care plan Positive Healthcare, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation currently provides health-care services to about 2,000 people in South Florida living with HIV or AIDS.
But The News Service of Florida first reported this month that foundation attorneys filed a written protest and requested a hearing after Positive Healthcare was not among the managed-care plans selected to negotiate with state Medicaid officials to continue providing care in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties beginning in 2019.
“To take a plan that’s been working for a really long time and to disrupt the care, when you’re dealing with a public health crisis is simply unthinkable to me,” said Michael Kahane, the southern bureau chief for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
The foundation staged protests at Agency for Health Care Administration offices in Fort Lauderdale and Miami earlier this week to bring attention to the issue.
The state is poised to award new contracts in the state’s Medicaid managed-care system to health plans in different regions of the state.
Winning bids are expected to be announced later this month.
The state will transition from current health plans under contract to new plans at the end of 2018.
Agency spokeswoman Mallory McManus issued a statement Thursday saying there would be no disruption in care or services for Medicaid enrollees who have HIV or AIDS.
“AHCA is fully committed to providing the care these individuals deserve,” she said in the statement.
McManus said the agency also is concerned that “recent and ongoing actions” by Positive Healthcare could violate a Florida law aimed at preventing bidders from contacting state officials during procurement processes.
“By seeking to exert outside influence or pressure on the agency’s procurement while it is still ongoing an entity disqualifies themselves,” she said. Kahane, an attorney, said the agency is wrong. “My answer to that is, the last time I checked we had a Constitution and a constitutional right to free speech,” he said.