A Medi-Cal program designed to help HIV/AIDS patients avoid expensive hospital and nursing home stays is severely underfunded, restricting its capacity to offer in-home care, advocates and treatment providers say.
Agencies that provide services for the $12 million-a-year program say the number of dollars earmarked for it has stagnated over the past decade and a half. And reimbursement rates for providers are less than in similar Medi-Cal programs. As a result, they say, many agencies have stopped or reduced their participation in the program.
Medi-Cal is California’s version of the federal Medicaid program. Under an agreement with the federal government, the program — known as the AIDS Medi-Cal Waiver — provides care that is not usually covered by Medi-Cal. Some of the services include nursing, therapy, transportation and home-delivered meals.
The number of HIV/AIDS patients getting services from the program is slightly less than 1,400 — a 40 percent drop since 2008, according to state data. Over the same period, the number of agencies providing services has declined by nearly half, from 44 to about 24.
Assembly member Mike Gipson (D-Carson), along with a coalition of HIV providers throughout the state, is seeking about $5 million more for the program.