On Tuesday New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a settlement with seven commercial health insurance providers, requiring them to cover Hepatitis C medications for nearly all patients, regardless of whether patients have advanced Hep C disease or a history of drug or alcohol use. This announcement preceded testimony delivered today by Dr. Vera Antonios, Harlem United’s Director of Adult Medicine, before the New York State Medicaid Drug Utilization Review Board in Albany, which called for universal access to Hepatitis C medications.
The following is a statement from Jacquelyn Kilmer (pictured above), Esq., CEO of Harlem United.
Since new medications that can cure Hepatitis C became available in 2014, two-thirds of the clients Harlem United has treated have been cured. Most of these clients are undeserved men of color ages 40 to 60, and 50 percent are co-infected with HIV. All New Yorkers, regardless of socioeconomic status or whether they have public or private health insurance, should have immediate access to medications that can cure their Hepatitis C infection. Immediate treatment not only reduces health care costs in the long run and prevents the spread of new infections, but also is simply the right thing to do. Harlem United thanks Attorney General Schneiderman for this historic settlement with insurance providers.
A transcript of Dr. Vera Antonios’ testimony to the New York State Medicaid Drug Utilization Review Board calling for universal access to Hepatitis C medications is available at: http://bit.ly/1VVG7sp
Facts about Hepatitis C:
- An estimated 146,000 New Yorkers have chronic Hepatitis C infection (data reported in 2013).
- Up to 50% are unaware that they are infected, and most do not experience symptoms until 10 to 30 years after infection.
- Hepatitis C is transmitted by exposure to infected blood, primarily through injection drug use, as well as through sexual contact.
- New medications can cure up to 90% of those infected with Hepatitis C, but costs range from $84,000 to $189,000 per person for a typical course of treatment.
- Lifetime cost of treatment for those infected with Hepatitis C can vary. However, a growing body of research indicates the lifetime savings resulting from treatment far outweigh the costs. For example, the cost of a liver transplant for those with advanced Hepatitis C disease is approximately $600,000 per person.
Founded in 1988, Harlem United is a nationally recognized human services organization that provides full access to integrated health care and social services for individuals experiencing multiple and complex issues, including HIV and AIDS, social stigma, mental illness, chronic substance and alcohol use, homelessness, and extreme poverty — regardless of race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression.
Check out their website at www.harlemunited.org
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