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Arbitrary treatment qualifiers limiting state Medicaid programs in hepatitis C fight — 6 things to know

A number of state Medicaid programs are imposing unfounded restrictions on hepatitis C treatments, limiting the impact of potential treatments, Medpage Today reports.

Here's what you should know:

1. The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable and the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation released a report evaluating hepatitis C treatment policies in the U.S., Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

2. The organizations found states implement a number of arbitrary limitations on hepatitis C care. Twelve states cover hepatitis C treatments only for people with advanced liver fibrosis, 20 states require a six-month abstinence period from drug or alcohol use and nine states require treatment to be prescribed by a liver disease specialist.

3. NVHR Executive Director Ryan Clary said, "Hepatitis C kills more Americans each year than all other infectious diseases combined, yet more than half of U.S. Medicaid programs continue to impose discriminatory and medically unfounded restrictions on hepatitis C cures. Giving Medicaid recipients broad access to a cure is critical if we are really serious about eliminating this country's deadliest blood-borne disease."

4. The report also found Medicare fee-for-service programs in 12 states require patients to progress to advanced or stage F3 fibrosis before qualifying for treatment. Eighteen more states require either moderate or stage F2 liver damage for treatment.

5. Additionally, the report found access to treatment was not influenced by geographic region or political leaning.

6. Alaska, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada and Washington were all awarded "A" rankings for access to treatment, while more than half of the remaining states received a "D" grade or worse.

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