FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. (September 18, 2018) - The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the parent organization of Positive Healthcare (PHC), a nonprofit agency providing medical care to over 2,000 Medicaid patients living with HIV in Florida for nearly two decades, today filed a motion seeking to have a Florida court hold Gov. Rick Scott in contempt for his failure to comply with the September 5th order of the Circuit Court of the Second Judicial Circuit, in and for Leon County, Florida, compelling him to make records of his schedule, calendar, and other events - including campaign and fundraising events - publicly available to the AHF within ten days.
As of close of business Monday (Sept. 17), no documents or records had been provided to the AHF. And also late Monday afternoon, the Executive Office of the Governor filed an appeal of the order with the Court. However, Florida statute provides that such appellants must comply with court orders during the appeal process.
As a result, attorneys for the AHF filed an Emergency Motion for Contempt and Sanctions (Case No. 2018-CA-001648, Filing #78024055, e-filed 09/18/2018) against Gov. Scott and the Executive Office of the Governor with the Court earlier today, also asking that a hearing on the motion be held today.
'The Court granted the AHF's petition for Writ of Mandamus on our public records requests almost two weeks ago, and we have yet to see a single document or record of any kind - no information on who he is meeting with, where he is traveling, campaigning and fundraising both in his official capacity as governor and in his current senatorial bid,' said Michael Kahane, Southern Bureau Chief for the AHF. 'Now, at the last possible moment, Scott's office files an appeal, clearly intending to drag out the court order as long as they can, including until after the November election, if possible. Gov. Scott, you are in contempt of the Court's order. We have petitioned the Court to formally declare you in contempt and compel you to hand over and make public these records.'
On September 5th, in a stunning rebuke to Gov. Scott and a victory for public access to information about elected officials' schedules, the Circuit Court granted the 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 the AHF within ten days.
In July, the AHF [...] filed a petition for Writ of Mandamus after its repeated public records requests to Gov. Scott's office were denied, falsely claiming that the records were officially exempt from disclosure.
Advocates from the AHF and Positive Healthcare have been protesting - and trying to protest - Gov. 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 Counties, in essence, a move denying critical health care 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. The AHF says the state's move will recklessly disrupt care for a vulnerable population of over 2,000 Florida HIV patients.
AHF files second petition for writ against Gov. Scott over additional public records
Late last week, AHF filed a second public records request lawsuit seeking another Writ of Mandamus against Florida Gov. 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 Thursday, September 13th in the Circuit Court of the Second Judicial Circuit, in and for Leon County, Florida (Filing #77847313, e-filed).
Background on AHF, Positive Healthcare, and Gov. Scott
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, the only nonprofit healthcare provider that offers insurance coverage for the critical, sensitive health care 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 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 nonprofit agency focused 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 occur while the state of Florida, and specifically Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, remain the nation's epicenter of the HIV epidemic. PHC 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 Rick Scott's tenure as governor
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.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 988,000 individuals in 41 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific region, and Eastern Europe. To learn more about the AHF, please visit www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth, and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare
Courtesy of the AHF