The South Florida AIDS Network (SFAN) functions as the networking/advisory body for the Ryan White Care (RWC), Part B grant in Broward County. Its monthly meetings are open to the public.
This meeting had two themes: 1) the transition from one Ryan White Care (RWC) contract year to another, and 2) reports from the May meeting of the statewide RWC planning and advisory group, the Florida Community Planning Network (FCPN).
Justin Bell, of Florida Department of Health, Broward (FL-DOH-BROW), gave a preliminary report on the RWC Fiscal Year (FY) 2014-2015 that ended on March 31, 2015. According to preliminary figures, Broward’s RWC Program had money left unspent, which will be returned to the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) fund.
Kim Saiswick and Joey Wynn reported on the FCPN meeting in Tampa. Participants requested that FL-DOH provide clarification to clients about how marriage equality could affect eligibility for HIV care. The Florida legislature voted for a one-time $200,000 screening program for Hepatitis C. Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) will remain separate from Ryan White Care. Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) will remain in its new contract.
Some people criticized the State for restricting its social media use to Facebook and Twitter. FL-DOH Representatives responded that state-contracted Community-Based Organization (CBOs) can and do use other social media. Other participants discussed problems with the transition to market based plans. Some carriers cashed payment checks but failed to apply the payment to the client. FL-DOH addressed these issues with the Office of Insurance Regulation.
Participants stressed the need to educate clients about the new Marketplace environment. It requires clients to become more active in managing payments for their own care. Clients need to report changes in income or household size, promptly and accurately. They also need to file income taxes, regardless of their income level. If not, they could face insurance cancelation, lower subsidy amounts, or a tax liability.
AIDS Insurance Continuation Program (AICP) clients experienced a much rougher transition to marketplace plans than ADAP clients did. People described it as filled with uncertainty and minimal explanations. People also discussed the confusion surrounding access to specialty pharmacies.
Florida now ranks first among all US states in HIV diagnoses. The Florida Department of Health reports that from January to November of 2014, 5,697 Floridians tested positive for the first time, an 11 percent increase over 2013. While we cannot feasibly measure new HIV infections, we can easily measure new diagnoses of HIV infection, people testing HIV positive for the first time.
This two-day meeting elected Kim Saiswick of Broward to statewide office. She now serves as the Statewide Community Co-chair of Florida Community Planning Network.
The HIV Planning Council has elected Will Spencer as interim chair and Yolanda Reed vice chair. Its next meeting will be June 25 at 9:30. Call 954-561-9681 ext. 1250 for location.
On June 25, 2015 from 4 to 6 p.m., the Florida Department of Health will host a meeting on High Impact Prevention at the Administrative. Center Auditorium, 780 SW 24th Street, Fort Lauderdale.
Next SFAN Meeting: Friday, July 10, at 10 a.m., at the Holy Cross Healthplex, 1000 NE 56th Street, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33334. Newcomers are encouraged to attend.