AHF, the world’s largest provider of health care services to people living with HIV and AIDS, has announced that California’s Department of Health Care Services is extending the contract for AHF’s Positive Healthcare, a 27-year-old AIDS care program created and operated by AHF – and the only specialized managed care plan for people living with AIDS in California. AHF’s contract is now being extended by the state through Dec. 31, 2023.
In late June 2022, AHF received notice from DHCS that it was not renewing AHF’s contract for the plan for 2023. That action would have forced patients into other plans and providers that do not offer the breadth of services available at AHF, services that allow a patient to successfully fight this life-threatening disease, such as registered nurse care management, guaranteed transportation to medical appointments and access to food and housing services. Moreover, other medical providers do not have long relationships with the patients – and may also not have the same degree of expertise in managing the care of HIV and AIDS patients.
However, AHF filed a formal notice of dispute with DCHS challenging its decision to let the Positive Healthcare contract expire. AHF filed a federal lawsuit asserting infringement of its first amendment rights over the state’s punitive action. AHF also filed a petition for writ of mandate in Sacramento Superior Court seeking to halt DHCS’s cancellation of the contract.
In late November, the United States District Court Central District of California issued a sweeping ruling granting AHF’s petition for preliminary injunction in its free speech case against the state of California’s Department of Health Care Services and its director, Michelle Baass. The injunction prevented the state and Baass from preemptively canceling the Medi-Cal contract with AHF’s Positive Healthcare special needs plan.
However, since the federal court’s ruling in November, DHCS has been silent on its plan of action with AHF, until a Dec. 15 letter giving notice to extend AHF’s contract for Positive Healthcare.
“On behalf of all the patients we care for in our Positive Healthcare program, we claim vindication with the renewal of our DHCS contract and are honored to be able to continue to provide the lifesaving care and services these plan members rely on,” AHF president Michael Weinstein said. “Last month, Judge Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong ruled that punitively canceling the Positive Healthcare contract – and thus, the Positive Healthcare program itself – at the end of this December until our formal notice of dispute and related lawsuits had at least been heard and adjudicated was wrong – and a ruling that should have given DHCS pause. We are grateful to have our contract renewed today for a full year.”
AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.7 million individuals in 45 countries worldwide in the U.S., Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. For information, visit aidshealth.org.
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