Earlier this month, San Francisco HIV frontline workers convened to discuss San Francisco’s HIV systems of care and the effect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on these systems.
Over 50 frontline workers from 19 different organizations joined the conversation. Participants included case managers, benefits counselors, social workers, peer advocates, and medical providers.
The meeting opened with welcomes from Dean Goodwin, HIV Health Services Administrator of the San Francisco Department of Public Health and Shannon Weber of Getting to Zero, a coalition of organizations whose goal is to get to zero new HIV infections, zero HIV deaths, and zero HIV stigma in San Francisco.
Following their remarks, Andy Scheer, a medical social worker at SF City Clinic, gave a presentation on the ACA and changes in San Francisco’s HIV systems of care. Andy’s comments addressed greater accessibility of health insurance through Medi-Cal expansion and Covered CA (the healthcare marketplace established by the ACA); the intersection between health insurance, public benefits, and taxes; the impact of same-sex marriage on access to government benefits; and changes at the local level, such as SFDPH’s shift away from a specialized care clinic model to an integrated treatment model.
Keeping up with all these changes is challenging, and in a quick survey of participating frontline workers, seven out of ten responded that the ACA makes them want to “hide under their desk.” However, attendees recognized the importance of HIV frontline workers being fully informed and having up-to-date information about systems of care to best serve San Francisco’s HIV positive community. Though it is difficult to keep up with and adapt to all of the changes in HIV systems of care, the continued hard work of frontline workers is worthwhile because the changes brought by the ACA will ultimately strengthen the healthcare system and make care more accessible. Continue reading