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Governor Rick Scott Denies Healthcare Coverage to Puerto Ricans and Other Vulnerable Populations Living with HIV/AIDS

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Over 100 HIV/AIDS Advocates to come out to call out the recent denial
of a Medicaid managed healthcare plan that addresses the critical,
life-saving medical needs of Puerto Ricans and other vulnerable
populations living with HIV/AIDS in Florida, the epicenter of the
nation's HIV/AIDS epidemic
.

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:

         
Market       Station
Orlando       WRUM-FM
 
Orlando WURF-AM
 
Orlando WONQ-AM
 
Miami       WAMR-FM
 

WHAT:

         

Protest against Governor Rick Scott's denial of healthcare
coverage to those living
with HIV/AIDS

 

WHO:

Over 100 HIV/AIDS activists from across the region

 

WHEN:

TODAY, Thursday, August 2, 2018 – 1:30pm

 

WHERE:

In front of the Offices of Hispanic Office for Local Assistance
(HOLA) –
595 N. Primrose Drive, Orlando

NOTE: Given heavy thunderstorms, the protest event will take
place at the
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Orlando Downtown, 60
South Ivanhoe Blvd., Orlando

 

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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