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HIV/AIDS activists protest at Governor's house

Posted at 7:23 PM, Jul 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-18 19:23:54-04

NAPLES, Fla. — HIV/AIDS activists from across Florida protested in front of Governor Rick Scott’s beach front home in Naples, Wednesday, because the state ended a contract with an HIV-specialized healthcare provider.

In April, Florida Medicaid officials announced they would discontinue a contract with Positive Healthcare, a provider run by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. They instead awarded the contracts to different vendors through competitive procurement according to the Agency for Health Care Administration. Protesters with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation said this move will disrupt care for nearly 2,000 people in Florida who use PHC, forcing them to choose different doctors. “If you shift them out of care that covers doctors they’ve had sustainable care with, doctors they trust, it’s likely they won’t go back into care,” said AHF Regional Director Imara Canady.

4 In Your Corner asked one mother what switching providers would be like. Melissa Shannon was diagnosed with HIV in 2003. “Without this insurance, I wouldn’t be here today,” she said. “For them to take insurance away and try to find a different plan, you won’t get the treatment you need, the extra care. Because you need to see a lot of different specialists a lot of times and the specialists don’t take the insurance.”

We reached out to the governor, and his office had the following comments about the protest:

“It’s totally false to say that HIV services are being reduced. Florida is actually doing the opposite. The HIV services that this vendor is referring to are being continued and offered throughout the entire state, not just the three counties they serve. This vendor’s actions have nothing to do with helping patients - this is just about a private vendor being upset that the state will be contracting with someone else to do more for this vulnerable population.” – McKinley Lewis, Office of Governor Rick Scott

If the state’s contract with PHC is not renewed, changes for patients will go into affect in January.