The Impact Of Medicaid Expansion On People Living With HIV And Seeking Behavioral Health Services

October 16, 2018

While Medicaid eligibility expansion created health care access for millions in California, its impact on people living with HIV has been more nuanced. Newly covered people living with HIV who have behavioral health care needs now must navigate separate mental health and substance use care systems, instead of receiving them in integrated care settings as they had under the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. We conducted forty-seven interviews in the period April 2015June 2016 to examine the impact of Medicaid expansion on people living with HIV in California who had behavioral health care needs. Californias historical division in its Medicaid funding streams created challenges in determining which payer should cover clients behavioral health care.


Compounding these challenges were a perceived lack of cultural competence for serving this population, insufficient infrastructure to facilitate continuity of care, and unmet need for nonmedical supportive services. The multipayer model under health reform has compromised the administrative simplicity and integrated delivery of HIV and behavioral health services previously available to uninsured patients through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.