Indian American Republican heavyweight Akshay Desai, founder of Universal Health Care, died Nov. 29, at the age of 61.
According to a report in India Abroad, Desai died of a massive brain aneurysm. The newspaper quoted a friend of the family as saying that a few days before he died, the Valsad, Gujarat-born geriatrician was in the basement of St. Petersburg, Florida home watching television, when his wife Seema heard a “thud.”
Seema Desai rushed downstairs and saw her husband having an apparent seizure. Akshay Desai was taken to the hospital in a coma and never regained consciousness, according to the report.
A funeral service was held for Desai on Dec. 3 at the Serenity Funeral Home in Largo, Florida. He leaves behind his wife and three children.
The family has created a photo tribute to the politically prolific Desai, which can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/350cY7b. Several written tributes from former co-workers and friends also appear on the tribute page.
Many of the tributes note that Desai had mentored his employees, giving many of them their first jobs in the health care industry.
The Tampa Bay Times characterized Desai as one of the “biggest local players in party politics.” The newspaper noted that he had dined with former President George W. Bush at his Texas ranch and with his wife, Seema, contributed more than $800,000 to Republican candidates and causes.
Bush named him to his Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Former Gov. Jeb Bush appointed him to a board that oversaw Florida’s university system.
In 2012, former Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney named Desai one of seven national co-chairs of his newly formed “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Romney” committee. Desai was appointed in February of 2012 to chair the Republican Party of Florida’s finance committee, and also served on the party’s national finance committee.
He received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2007, an honor given to outstanding immigrants.
Desai founded Universal Health Care and American Managed Care in 2002. The company, which provided Medicare Advantage health plans in 19 states, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013, with $45 million in debt. FBI agents raided the corporation’s headquarters on March 28, 2013,
The geriatrician continued to see private patients after Universal was shuttered. The Tampa Bay Times said Desai chose Florida because of its large elderly population.