June 19, 2012
A new HIV/AIDS Medicaid health maintenance organization was launched last month in Florida with 350 Miami-Dade patients. Offered by the insurer Simply Healthcare, the Clear Health Alliance (CHA) HMO plan was started because "we have the distinction of having the largest number of new HIV/AIDS cases in the country," said Miguel B. "Mike" Fernandez, Simply Healthcare's creator.
CHA plans to have its own clinics in Wynwood, Overtown, and Liberty City and soon will expand to serve Broward County and other areas of Florida. The alliance styles itself a new "Dream Team" and includes leaders from the University of Miami (UM) medical school and Magic Johnson Enterprises. CHA this month hired Thomas Liberti, chief of the state's HIV/AIDS Bureau for the past 15 years, as a strategic advisor.
UM physicians will offer primary and specialty care to CHA patients and technical expertise on HMO resource allocation, said Michael Kolber, director of the university's Comprehensive AIDS Program. These HIV/AIDS specialists can see patients at the UM-Jackson Memorial campus as well as at area clinics run by Borinquen and Care Resource. "Not everybody can make it to Jackson," Kolber said.
The UM AIDS program is dedicated to ensuring patients have a "medical home" to coordinate care. "We think this is critically important," said Kolber.
The HIV/AIDS Medicaid HMO came about as a result of a state law last year allowing the creation of such plans. This year, as part of a Medicaid reform effort, the Legislature required HIV patients statewide to join specialized HMOs.