ORLANDO, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug 2, 2018--Over 100 HIV/AIDS advocates from across the region will join AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest, non-profit HIV/AIDS service organization, today at 1:30pm in front of the City of Orlando Hispanic Office for Local Assistance (HOLA), 595 N. Primrose Drive, Orlando, FL, to protest against Governor Rick Scott’s denial of a Medicaid managed healthcare plan that provides critical coverage to Puerto Ricans and other vulnerable populations living with HIV/AIDS. Since 1999, the plan, managed by Positive Healthcare (PHC), which is administered by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, has provided for the sensitive medical needs of over 2,000 individuals in Florida, living with HIV/AIDS.

In late April, Florida Medicaid officials announced the awarding of Medicaid contracts, worth up to $90 billion, 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, the only non-profit agency whose focus is on providing care to thousands of clients living with HIV in Florida, that have relied on this critical coverage to get the necessary care they need, by the doctors of their choice, to live a healthy life.

“As the epicenter of HIV/AIDS in this country, it is deplorable that Governor Scott is playing with the lives of Puerto Ricans and other vulnerable populations living with HIV/AIDS in Florida,” stated Michael Kahane, AHF Southern Bureau Chief. “Rick Scott has not been transparent with the Puerto Rican community or anyone that he was elected to serve, on what he is doing to address this epidemic that has exploded under his watch. If he truly cares about the Puerto Rican community or anyone dealing with healthcare challenges, we implore him to put people over politics and let Puerto Ricans and all people choose who to provide their healthcare, as one choice is no choice.”

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. As well, the rate of new HIV/AIDS diagnosis continues to increase across the state, with Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics and Latinos being disproportionately impacted. AHF and the numerous community supporters across the region that have come out in support of PHC implore Governor Scott to understand that one choice is no choice and to put people first and not big for-profit businesses and give this vulnerable population a choice.

Coinciding with today's protest, AHF is also running radio ads on local Orlando and Miami stations to bring awareness to the Puerto Rican community of the devastating impact of Rick Scott’s actions of denying them and other vulnerable populations the choice for healthcare that can be life-saving for those within their community living with HIV/AIDS. Stations currently running the awareness spots are:

According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

HIV and Hispanics/Latinos:

Hispanics/Latinos account for about one quarter of all new diagnoses of HIV in the United States, despite representing about 18% of the total US population; An estimated 235,600 Hispanics/Latinos were living with HIV in the United States. Of these, an estimated 17% were living with undiagnosed HIV; In Florida, the rate of Hispanic/Latino males living with an HIV diagnosis is 1.9 times that of White males, the rate of Hispanic/Latina females living with an HIV diagnosis is 2.5 times that of White females.

HIV/AIDS in Florida:

In Orlando, the rate of Hispanic/Latino males living with an HIV diagnosis is 1.8 times that of White males, the rate of Hispanic/Latina females living with an HIV diagnosis is 4.8 times that of White females; 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.

About AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 940,000 individuals in 39 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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CONTACT: AIDS Healthcare Foundation

FLORIDA:

Imara Canady, Regional Director, Communications & Community Engagement for AHF

954.952.0258 mobile

Imara.Canady@aidshealth.org

or

NATIONAL:

Ged Kenslea, Senior Director, Communications, AHF

+1.323.308.1833 work

+1.323.791.5526 cell

gedk@aidshealth.org

KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA CARIBBEAN FLORIDA PUERTO RICO

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: WOMEN HEALTH AIDS INFECTIOUS DISEASES PUBLIC POLICY/GOVERNMENT HEALTHCARE REFORM OTHER POLICY ISSUES STATE/LOCAL PHILANTHROPY PROFESSIONAL SERVICES INSURANCE CONSUMER FOUNDATION MEN MANAGED CARE

SOURCE: AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Copyright Business Wire 2018.

PUB: 08/02/2018 08:30 AM/DISC: 08/02/2018 08:30 AM

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