CO expands hepatitis C drug treatment coverage: 5 notes

Colorado's state Medicaid department will expand hepatitis C treatment to cover more residents, according to the Denver Post.

Here's what you need to know:

1. Previously, the state only covered the expensive hepatitis C drug treatment for patients in the final two stages of liver damage. With this new policy, Medicaid patients in the final three stages of liver damage will be covered.

2. This new policy also expands coverage to women who plan to become pregnant within the next year and to residents with a history of substance abuse, providing they enroll in a drug treatment program.

3. In August, the American Civil Liberties Union said it would file a federal lawsuit against the state if the state did not cover all patients for hepatitis C treatment. The ACLU asserts that the state is required to provide Medicaid patients with all necessary care, which they say includes hepatitis C treatment.

4. State officials say that covering all patients is not necessary, since hepatitis C does not always advance beyond the first stage of liver disease.

5. State officials estimate that, with this new policy, providing hepatitis C treatment will cost Colorado $47.5 million over the next year.

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