Even with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare), the Ryan White CARE Act is still a key safety net supporting care for people living with HIV. Publishing their findings in Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers studied data from the HIV Research Network, a consortium of HIV clinics across the United States, looking at information on 28,374 HIV patients at 10 clinics, comparing data from 2011 to 2013 with that from the first months of 2014.

The ACA’s marketplace private insurance plans went into effect on January 1, 2014, along with Medicaid expansion in those states that had decided to initiate that particular broadening of health services for those with less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level (the Supreme Court made doing so optional).

This study included data from clinics in three states that expanded Medicaid, including California, Oregon and Maryland, and two that did not, Texas and Florida. Another four clinics were located in New York, which expanded its own Medicaid program in 2001.

Individuals’ participation in the Ryan White program in the non-expansion states Texas and Florida did not significantly vary between the pre- and post-ACA rollout periods; 52 percent used Ryan White for coverage during both periods. Use of Ryan White among those in the expansion states California, Oregon and Maryland fell from 28 percent to 2013 between the two periods. This drop was not as steep as experts had anticipated, indicating the continued need for Ryan White’s support. Ryan White use in New York State did not vary between the periods, remaining at 20 percent.

“Our study shows that Congress and the White House should continue strong support for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program despite the ACA,” Stephen Berry, MD, an HIV specialist and assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the study’s lead author, said in a press release. “The program’s support remains the only mechanism for tens of thousands to receive basic HIV care to prevent HIV transmission and death from AIDS.”

To read a press release about the study, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.