Vindicated by a federal court ruling, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is now pursing prosecution against three ex-employees.
In an exclusive interview with SFGN, Michael Kahane, Bureau Chief for AHF’s Southern Region, said confidential patient information was stolen by the threesome. The ex-employees were part of a lawsuit involving kickbacks, bonuses and referrals that was dismissed by a federal judge in a decision unsealed last month.
“They stole confidential information and we now have pending litigation against them,” Kahane said. “That did not become an issue until the resolution of this case. We couldn’t move forward with that until this case was resolved.”
U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams ruled bonus payments to bona fide AHF employees for referring HIV/AIDS patients to AHF providers “fell within the Anti-Kickback Statue’s employee exception, because such patient referrals are covered services under the Ryan White Program.”
Jason King, Legislative Affairs Manager for AHF’s Southern Bureau, said the decision vindicates AHF.
“This program was vetted by the foremost health legal team in the country,” King said. “It’s a proven model.”
Kahane said the three ex-employees – identified in court documents as Jack Carrel, Mauricio Ferrer and Shawn Loftis are “obviously disgruntled employees.” Kahane said the trio worked at AHF’s Fort Lauderdale offices.
“Basically what happened is these three employees who are former employees of AHF went to Medicaid and went to AHCA (Agency for Healthcare Administration) which is Medicare for Florida and said this is happening and we believe this to be illegal and we are asking you to join in on this lawsuit so that we can correct this wrong. And both Medicare and AHCA said we disagree and we’re not going to join in.”
AHF, a Los Angeles-based global nonprofit organization, provides medicine and advocacy to more 700,000 people in 39 countries. In South Florida, AHF recently expanded services with the opening of a new health care center in Miami’s Liberty City. Similar centers are scheduled to open this month in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
“I'm not surprised AHF is suing the employees, considering they punitively sue anyone in their way,” said Mark S. King, a frequent critic of AHF and author of the HIV blog My Fabulous Disease. “I'm glad AHF is so aggressive about HIV testing because I believe it is primary to ending the epidemic. I'm just sorry they are so litigious and hell-bent on dominating the HIV service arena without regard to local agencies in the cities AHF enters. AHF continues its empire-building and its legal intimidation of other organizations -- such as suing when they don't get the funding they want, as they have done in city after city.”