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Policy Update for Community Planners

Policy Update for Community Planners

by Nicole Johns

May 2, 2013

There has been a lot of activity in the HIV policy world over the last several weeks. There has been so much going on that I decided to break up all the news and highlights into three blog posts. This post is for community planners, the other two will be for providers and individuals. I hope that you find one or more helpful and continue to educate yourself about health reform and the future of the Ryan White program. 

Ryan White Reauthorization

Ryan White Program Reauthorization Webinar from on Vimeo. had a well-attended and informative webinar a few weeks ago on the reauthorization of the Ryan White Act (see above). You can read up a little bit on the issues on my past blog post. You can check out the slides from the webinar here
In short, the Ryan White Act will not be reauthorized this year, at least not in time for the "expiration" in the fall. No worries, the Ryan White program can and will still be funded and carry on. Budgets for 2014 from President Obama and Congress include funding for Ryan White.
Interesting fact: The law creating HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS) has never been reauthorized and the program carries on. 

New Kaiser Reports

Updating the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program for a New Era: Key Issues and Questions for the Future - Kaiser Family Foundation


image courtesy of

This policy brief was released in April 2013 and highlights key issues and questions facing the Ryan White program, in light of recent scientific and policy developments.  The brief is divided into four main themes:

1. Supporting people with HIV at each stage of the Treatment Cascade, from diagnosis to viral suppression.
2. Building HIV care networks in underserved communities.
3. Integrating HIV care expertise into the mainstream health care system.
4. Effectively and fairly allocating Ryan White resources. 

Key issues from the brief for community planners: supporting the maximum number of people along the treatment cascade, integrating HIV care and prevention planning, updating the requirement that at least 75% of Part A funds go to "core services", payer of last resort concerns in the era of health reform, reconsideration of funding formulas to direct resources to communities of greatest need, and greater collaboration between HIV medical care and supportive services. 

Medicaid: A Primer - Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured

Kaiser also issued a comprehensive primer on Medicaid back in March. I recommend taking the time to read it, even if you think you know about Medicaid.  Topics include: Who is covered, what is covered, Medicaid's impact on access to care, costs of Medicaid, and who pays for Medicaid. 
Considering over half of the EMA's Ryan White clients are Medicaid-covered, an understanding of Medicaid's role in our health system is essential to good community planning, especially in the time of even more limited funding and health reform.

Kaiser has a great slide show about the role of Medicaid.

Payer of Last Resort

HRSA has released a few documents and resources concerning "payer of last resort" issues. It is important that Planning Council members have a clear understanding of what payer of last resort really means.

....“payer of last resort,” meaning that the Ryan White funds may not be used for any item or service for which payment has been made, or “can reasonably be expected to be made,” by any other payer. -- Joint CMS/HRSA informational bulletin (May 1, 2013)

There was another recent clarification released by HRSA concerning payer of last resort and eligibility of PLWHA for Ryan White services:

Clarifications Regarding Medicaid-Eligible Clients and Coverage of Services by Ryan 
White HIV/AIDS Program

....once an individual is enrolled in Medicaid, RWHAP funds may be used to pay for any medically necessary services which Medicaid does not cover or where Medicaid coverage is limited in scope, as well as premiums, co-pays and deductibles if required. RWHAP funds will continue to cover other core medical services such as adult dental, vision, or enhanced adherence and prevention counseling services as a part of primary care if those services are not covered or are limited under Medicaid, even when those services are provided at the same visit as Medicaid-covered services.  Policy Clarification Notice (PCN) #13-01

These statements are clear. Ryan White program funds CANNOT be used when ANY other payer (private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, etc.) could cover the service for a RW-eligible client. This does not mean that Ryan White funds can "fill in gaps" in reimbursement for particular services; i.e. bridging the difference between the cost of providing the service and the third-party reimbursement. Ryan White funds can cover services that CANNOT be billed to another third-party, even if these services happen within the same visit or interaction as the Medicaid (or otherwise) reimbursed visit. 
Payer of last resort is such an important issue, because the Affordable Care Act (health reform) will enable more people living with HIV/AIDS to gain access to health insurance and more Ryan White services will be eligible for other third-party reimbursement. The Planning Council is responsible for developing priorities for the allocation of Ryan White funds, and must do so in a manner that takes into account ALL available resources within our EMA's HIV care system. At this point in time, we do not understand the full impact of health reform on the Ryan White system or the clients. The issue of payer of last resort will continue to be important throughout the planning and allocations process for 2014.

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