The Affordable Care Act
President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010, envisioning a comprehensive package of health care reforms that would expand access to medical coverage for millions of uninsured Americans. Despite an incredibly rocky rollout, plagued with court challenges and computer glitches, the Affordable Care Act (also known as “the ACA,” or “Obamacare”) has resulted in 11 million more insured people: 8 million who signed up for private insurance through state exchanges, and 3 million new Medicaid enrollments. In California, 1.4 million people gained coverage under expanded Medi-Cal rules, while 1.9 million purchased coverage through the state’s health exchange.
Expanded opportunities for health coverage are particularly important for people living with HIV and viral hepatitis, who have historically faced unique challenges in obtaining and maintaining health insurance, whether private or public. For people living with HIV, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program has helped bridge many of the gaps in paying for care.
This issue of Perspectives highlights the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act that relate to people living with HIV and viral hepatitis, discusses why the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is still needed, despite new insurance access through the marketplace “exchanges” and Medicaid expansion, and explains how counselors can be helpful to clients who may benefit from coverage under the ACA. It also notes some of the challenges that remain as implementation continues.