Florida AIDS Activists Protest Hillsborough County’s Decision to Rebid THAP Contracts
A number of activists gathered on Monday to protest the decision of officials in Hillsborough County, Fla., to allow other agencies to bid on contracts previously awarded to the financially troubled Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan, the St. Petersburg Times reports (Testerman, St. Petersburg Times, 4/30). THAP has received approximately $900,000 in each of the past years in Ryan White CARE Act funding through eight different contracts. The agency provides housing, transportation and case management assistance to approximately 800 low-income people living with HIV/AIDS in Hillsborough County. County commissioners in March voted to extend most of THAP's contracts with the county by three months (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 3/8). But the county, concerned about THAP's involvement in two federal investigations and its failure to submit audits on time, has now recommended that most of the contracts go to other providers beginning in May or June. Some AIDS activists have protested the county's actions, stating that THAP, which is operated by a minority-run board, can better suit the needs of minorities. "Only THAP will go into certain ZIP codes for outreach because the neighborhoods are too tough," Michael Ruppal, a THAP official, said. THAP client Jerome Clark added, "I don't think another agency can deal with minority problems as well." County Commissioner Ronda Storms, however, said that the county's decision was not racially motivated, adding that the county cannot jeopardize its federal funding by awarding contracts to THAP when there are other organizations that can meet contractual obligations (St. Petersburg Times, 4/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.