Florida HIV/AIDS Advocates Protest Provider Change for Medicaid Clients
HIV/AIDS advocates and people living with the disease in Miami on Thursday protested a state plan that changes the provider of HIV/AIDS care for Medicaid beneficiaries, the Miami Herald reports. The protest was organized by the not-for-profit AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which filed a contract bid protest with the state's Agency for Health Care Administration after losing its longtime Medicaid contract last month to the for-profit firm Specialty Disease Management Services, the Herald reports.
AHF currently provides 70 disease-management nurses across the state. The foundation in its revised bid for the Medicaid contract proposed using 35 field nurses and at least 15 nurses at a call center. Steve Gutos -- a spokesperson for Jacksonville, Fla.-based Specialty Disease Management -- would not comment on how many nurses his agency plans to employ. However, the Herald obtained a copy of the firm's proposal to the state, which indicates that the agency plans to use up to 24 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. Seven of those would be based at a Jacksonville call center, according to the document.
Donna Stidham, a registered nurse and chief of managed care with AHF, said the state's plan under the new firm is not workable because HIV/AIDS patients require more personal monitoring. 'If you have diabetes and don't take care of yourself, you will end up in the emergency room and then go see your doctor,' Stidham said, adding, "With HIV, you don't get sick quickly. The medicines are not easy to take. You need someone to monitor you and make sure the right regimen is in place.' Gutos said the comparison between the two plans is inaccurate, adding, 'It's not the same program in terms of what the state requested. [The state] selected us after a very thorough selection process."
Officials with AHCA and Specialty Disease Management said the contract was awarded fairly, the Herald reports. Agency spokesperson Doc Kokol said the state decreased the contract from $9 million to $4.5 million because many of the 8,000 Medicaid beneficiaries statewide receive care through other contractors in Broward and Duval counties. Kokol said, 'We are confident that recipients will receive the care and quality of care that they expect and they deserve," adding, "The services are the same, but I can't get into how those are provided" (Robinson/Caputo, Miami Herald, 6/7).