Florida AIDS Fund Diverted To Pay For Autism Treatment For “Politically Connected” Family

From the Advocate.com, a self-described lesbian and gay publication.

Nearly $200,000 in federal AIDS funds granted to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration were diverted to pay for autism treatments for the adopted child of a “politically connected” Broward County, Fla., couple, according to reports in the Miami Herald.

The unnamed couple in 1999 threatened to sue the state or give back their adopted child when Florida officials refused to pay for extensive autism treatments, according to a review by the administration’s inspector general. Medicaid Bureau chief Shelly Brantley and possibly others in the bureau in 1999 reportedly “went shopping” through the administration’s various health programs to obtain the money for the child’s treatment and later that year began diverting about $40,000 per year from the state’s Project AIDS Care program. The 200-page inspector general’s report says that at least two prominent health officials told investigators that Brantley, and possibly others in the administration, directly approved the diversion of the funds.

The investigation was prompted after a retired administration program analyst filed a complaint with the inspector general alleging that the diversion of funds violated state and federal laws. He told investigators that when he approached Brantley with reservations about taking the money from Project AIDS Care, Brantley told him, “Find a way to pay for it. Do what you’re told to do,” the Herald reports.

Administration spokesman Jonathan Burns says there are no plans to reimburse Project AIDS Care for the $200,000 diverted from it. Burns also would not comment on whether the autistic child’s treatments were still being paid for with money from the AIDS program, citing federal privacy laws that prevented him from commenting on the issue. Another agency spokesperson said no disciplinary action has been taken against any agency employees.
Brantley and the mother of the adopted autistic child declined to comment on the report.

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