DENVER -The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF), which administers the state’s Medicaid program, announced today that it will remove the restriction on providing Hepatitis C medications that has been at the center of an ACLU of Colorado class action lawsuit against the agency. This change means that thousands of Colorado Medicaid recipients infected with the HCV virus will soon be eligible to receive the newer direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medications that have a greater than 90% rate of curing the disease.
ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein issued the following statement:
“Federal law requires that Medicaid provide all medically necessary treatment. Throughout the litigation, we have maintained that Medicaid is obligated to provide the new curative medications to all Medicaid recipients who are living with the HCV virus. With this new change in policy, Colorado Medicaid will no longer restrict treatment to persons who have already sustained serious damage to their livers.
This is a major step toward resolving the litigation and providing necessary medical care to thousands of Medicaid recipients who need it. It is also a much more fiscally sound path for the state, because early treatment saves costs that come from continuing to force patients to wait for treatment until they have suffered serious liver damage.
With Medicare, the Veterans Administration, all major private health insurers, and now Medicaid all agreeing to provide curative treatment for Hepatitis C at all stages of the disease, the only Coloradans who continue to be denied access to treatment are people who are incarcerated in Colorado prisons, where a massive Hepatitis C crisis persists. At least one in every nine prisoners suffers from Hepatitis C, and complications from the disease kill nearly as many Coloradans in custody every year as drug and alcohol abuse, homicide, and suicide combined.
Our class action lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Corrections is in litigation, and similar to Medicaid patients, we are seeking a swift and just result for our clients, who cannot afford to wait for access to treatment while their health continues to deteriorate.”