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State of Georgia Investigating Its HIV Unit

State officials in Georgia have launched an investigation into suspicious contracts awarded by the Georgia Department of Public Health’s HIV unit.

The internal investigation centers around $5 million in contracts issued to nonprofits that perform much of the HIV testing in Georgia. According to Georgia State Health Officer, Brenda Fitzgerald, there appears to be a wide variation in the costs of the contracts, some of which went to former state employees without competitive bidding.

Fitzgerald said the investigation by the Department of Community Health inspector general centers around the “uncertainty” of how the contracts to nonprofits were awarded, including widely disparate per-person costs to the state for HIV tests, which was found to range between $75 a person to $40 a person.

The state receives about $8 million a year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for HIV prevention, about $5 million of which is handed out to nonprofit organizations in contracts ranging from $30,000 to $150,000.

The investigation has already forced the resignation of the HIV prevention program manager, after investigators probed how she doled out millions in federal funds during her 16-month tenure.

The internal investigation comes at a critical moment for the state’s approach to public health. Legislation approved this year created Public Health as a standalone department as of July 1. Already the HIV unit has been criticized over its list of about 1,600 patients waiting for access to a government-funded program for HIV and AIDS drugs.

Fitzgerald and other top officials acknowledged the department has been hampered by an inefficient and overly bureaucratic culture that slowed the spending of federal HIV prevention dollars while Georgia’s HIV problem got worse.

A list of contracts between the HIV unit and nonprofits showed that dozens of nonprofits waited weeks or months to receive essential money for HIV prevention that had already been awarded to them.

For more information on the Georgia Department of Public Health’s HIV unit, please contact Daniel B. Brown, Esq. The attorneys of The Health Law Partners can be reached in our in our Atlanta office at (770) 804-6475, in our Detroit area office at (248) 996-8510, and in our New York office at (212) 734-0128 or through the HLP website.

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