from www.dailynews.com – A federal judge sided with Los Angeles County in its latest skirmish against the AIDS Healthcare Foundation Friday, allowing it to audit the nonprofit organization next week.
In his ruling, US District Judge Percy Anderson rejected AHF’s bid for a temporary restraining order to delay the audit because it could not back up its claim that the audit was a form of harassment that would harm patients.
“Even plaintiff’s evidence of irreparable harm is relatively weak in light of the county’s evidence that the type of fiscal audit it plans ordinarily does not interfere with the delivery of patient care,” Anderson wrote.
AHF cofounder and president Michael Weinstein said the war is not over yet.
“We’ve notified the county auditor-controller that we will be ready and available to meet with them on Monday morning, but we will have our legal counsel present and we will continue to press this case about retaliation and our Fourth Amendment rights,” he said.
“We didn’t succeed in getting the TRO but that doesn’t determine the final outcome of this,” he added.
Weinstein had sought the temporary restraining order Thursday, claiming the county was using the audit — the latest in a series over the last five months — to retaliate against the AHF for criticizing its policies and practices.
The AHF considers the county health department corrupt and inefficient and is initiating a ballot measure to have the city of Los Angeles create its own health department, which would effectively gut the county agency. It also has pending lawsuits criticizing the county’s contracting practices and response to syphilis and meningitis outbreaks.
Weinstein said the county should give the AHF some “breathing room” and postpone the audit until September.
The federal judge, however, said there was an “absence of sufficient evidence, as opposed to allegations,” that conducting the audit next week would do irreparable harm.
The county said the federal government required the audit.
A previous audit had concluded the AHF overbilled the county Department of Public Health by $1.7 million in fiscal year 2008-2009, by charging it for costs already covered by Medi-Cal, Medicare, private insurance, grants and fees.
The new audit would look into whether such overbilling happened in subsequent years as well.
Weinstein denies the allegation, calling it another form of harassment by the county.