New program could wipe out Hepatitis C

The American Press

<p class="p1">The Louisiana Department of Health is convinced a new program it is considering that is known as a “subscription-based” model could be the beginning of the end of Hepatitis C in the state. The goal is to find a drug maker that will agree to be paid what the state currently spends to treat Hep C in exchange for patients’ unlimited access to the medication.</p><p class="p3">Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of LDH, told The Advocate some of the nation’s  biggest drug makers have already expressed an interest in the idea. The bipartisan National Governors Association has identified the subscription model are one of its recommendations for states to consider.</p><p class="p3">The newspaper said Hepatitis C is virtually curable, but the high cost of medication has made it unaffordable for thousands of Louisiana residents. Nearly 35,000 people on the state’s Medicaid program have the Hep C virus, which is spread through blood contamination and can lead to liver disease and cirrhosis.</p><p class="p3">Medicaid is the federal-state health care program for poor and low-income Americans. Nearly half of Louisiana’s $29 billion state budget goes to health care. One out of every five residents, including children, the elderly and disabled, is on Medicaid.</p><p class="p3">“We’re really optimistic that we may be the first state in the nation to get close to curing Hep C,” Gee told The Advocate. “We ought to be in a situation where we are spending enough money we can solve whatever health challenge is in front of us,” she said.</p><p class="p3">“I will probably never know what got this whole issue unstuck,” Gee said. “I feel very hopeful because I have (federal health officials) and the (pharmaceutical) industry, at this point, saying, ‘Let’ go ahead.’”</p><p class="p3">U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., specialized in hematology as a doctor and said he supports this latest proposal. Successful treatments will save the state money down the road, he said.</p><p class="p3">The U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services will have to approve the new program, but the Trump administration is encouraging states to be more innovative with their health care delivery systems.</p><p class="p3">Gee said if this program is successful it could become a model for other costly treatments. Having Louisiana in the forefront of this effort helps the state’s image and gives more citizens a health benefit they couldn’t otherwise afford.</p>””Hepatitis C graphic

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