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AHF Sues Gov. Rick Scott for Violating Florida's Sunshine Law

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Scott Withholds Records of Contacts with Insurers

AIDS
group successfully sued Governor Scott in July after repeated public
records requests were denied, with his office falsely claiming that the
records were exempt from disclosure


Today, AHF filed a
new public records lawsuit seeking all communications between the
Governor's office and all applicants or bidders—as well as their
lobbyists—for Florida's Medicaid AIDS care contracts

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF),
the parent organization of Positive
Healthcare
, a nonprofit agency providing medical care to thousands
of Medicaid patients living with HIV in Florida for nearly two decades,
today filed a second public records request lawsuit seeking a Writ
of Mandamus
against Florida Governor Rick Scott over his failure to
provide requested records of communications between the Executive Office
of the Governor (EOG) and all other bidders—and their lobbyists—for
Florida's Medicaid AIDS care contracts in the state Agency for Health
Care Administration's eleven service regions. In an article on the new
legal action, the Tampa
Bay Times
notes, "The list of lobbyists includes Dean Cannon, Al
Cardenas, Mike Corcoran, Hayden Dempsey, Nick Iarossi, Fred Karlinsky,
Larry Overton, Bill Rubin and Gerald Wester, among many others."

The action was filed earlier today in the Circuit Court of the Second
Judicial Circuit, in and for Leon County, Florida (Filing # 77847313
E-filed).

Last week, in a separate public records request lawsuit filed against
Governor Scott by AHF in July, the same court granted AHF's petition for
a Writ
of Mandamus
ordering the Governor to make records of his schedule,
calendar and other events—including campaign and fundraising
events—publicly available to AHF by September 15th. This was
a stunning rebuke to the Florida Governor and Republican Senate
candidate Scott and a victory for public access to information about
publicly elected officials' schedules and campaign and fundraising
events.

Today's Petition for Writ of Mandamus asserts to the Court that:

"Petitioner (AHF) has no other remedy but to file a Petition for Writ
of Mandamus seeking an order compelling production of the public records
responsive to its public records request. Petitioner seeks an expedited
order requiring EOG to produce the responsive records before September
28, 2018."

"We are grateful to the court for granting our prior petition for Writ
of Mandamus last week, an order which compels the Governor to provide
his calendar, travel schedule, place of residence and campaign and
fundraising event schedules to us within ten days. However, we also
requested information on all communication and correspondence between
the Governor's office and all other Medicaid AIDS care contract
bidders—and their lobbyists—but Scott's office denied those requests as
well, forcing us to file today's action," said Michael Kahane,
Southern Bureau Chief for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "We remind
Governor Scott once again that a fundamental part of holding public
office is that it is public and as such—and as the court showed
last week—that means that certain documents and information must be made
public when properly and legally requested."

In July, AHF filed its earlier petition for Writ of Mandamus after its
repeated public records requests to Governor Scott's office were denied,
with his office falsely claiming that the records were officially exempt
from disclosure.

Advocates from AHF and Positive Healthcare have been protesting—and
trying to protest—Governor Scott after the state's Agency for Health
Care Administration (AHCA) failed to renew Positive Healthcare's
contract to cover Medicaid patients with HIV/AIDS in Broward and
Miami-Dade, a move that essentially will deny critical healthcare
coverage to those living with HIV/AIDS.

The organization has been calling out Scott in response to his and state
Medicaid officials' failure to renew an HIV care contract with AHF's
Positive Healthcare. AHF says the state's move will recklessly disrupt
care for a vulnerable population of nearly 2,000 Florida HIV patients.

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

Scott's irresponsible actions and lack of transparency occurs while the
State of Florida, and specifically Miami-Dade and Broward counties,
continue to rise as the nation's epicenter of the HIV epidemic. Positive
Healthcare currently offers coverage to those living with HIV in
Miami-Dade and Broward counties, which rank #1 and #2, nationally for
reported cases of new HIV diagnosis.

The facts about HIV in Florida under Governor Scott's watch:

  • Nearly 5,000 people in Florida were infected with HIV in 2016 alone,
    which means one out of every eight new HIV infections in the United
    States occurred in Florida.
  • South Florida leads the nation in new HIV diagnoses at 38.7 new
    infections per every 100,000 people. In contrast, the overall rate in
    the United States is 12.3 new infections per every 100,000 people.
  • Nearly 136,000 Floridians are estimated to be living with HIV, but one
    in six is still not aware of his or her HIV-positive status.
  • More than 30,000 Floridians currently living with HIV are not
    receiving care for their infection.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS
organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over
984,000 individuals in 41 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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