This post is part 7 of our 12-part “Protect Medi-Cal Funding” series. Medi-Cal provides a long-term investment that helps Californians succeed. This blog series highlights the importance of Medi-Cal for women with HIV in California.
California’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, covers more than 45,000 Californians living with HIV. Medi-Cal covers a range of services to treat and support people with HIV, ensuring that those infected with the disease get the care they need. Women living with HIV are disproportionately women of color, and their communities benefit significantly from the coverage, treatment, and care Medi-Cal provides. The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) under consideration by the Senate cuts federal Medicaid spending by $772 billion over ten years and caps Medicaid funds to states. These cuts are just as bad as those made by the American Health Care Act (AHCA), passed by House Republicans in May.
In addition, the recently released White House budget proposes to further cut federal Medicaid spending by an estimated $1.3 trillion over the next decade. These Medicaid funding cuts will shift costs to the state, including California, which anticipates a $30 Billion cut over the next 10 years under the BCRA.
Faced with these cuts, the state may seek to:
- Cut services in Medi-Cal, such as prescription drugs or adult dental services, that women with HIV need to stay health;
- Enact higher out-of-pocket cost-sharing or other utilization controls to restrict or delay access to Medi-Cal services needed by women with HIV;
- Eliminate Medi-Cal coverage for adults eligible for the Medicaid expansion, including women with HIV.
Cutting services or placing barriers on access to care will harm low-income California women with HIV by forcing them to forgo or delay care at risk to their own health. In addition, if Medi-Cal coverage is unavailable or access to care is more difficult, women may forgo HIV screening in the first place, and remain unaware that they are infected with the disease. Women who have HIV but don’t know it may spread the disease to their partners, and are unlikely to receive necessary treatment. This could create a public health crisis in California.
Check out our Protect Medi-Cal Series, Issue #7, for a “deeper dive” on the importance of Medi-Cal to women with HIV, and how this population is threatened by Medicaid funding cuts.