Chief Health Officer Nilesh Kalyanaraman sees firsthand the policy barriers to treating people with hepatitis C.
John and Regina were two of my clients with hepatitis C, a disease that we can cure. But, because of insurance restrictions, I could only treat John.
Unlike John, Regina did not have enough liver damage to qualify for Maryland Medicaid coverage. We checked Regina’s liver every six months, but the level of damage didn’t change. I had to apologize every time for a rule that didn’t make any sense.
Sadly, 60% of clients with hepatitis C are like Regina. They are denied treatment and a real health victory in a state that has one of the highest rates of hepatitis C in the country.
As a doctor, I’ve never encountered restrictions based on liver damage working with private insurance or Medicare. With the added risk factors associated with poverty, substance use and homelessness, Medicaid restrictions are devastating. Recent studies show that Medicaid recipients are 10 times as likely to die from hepatitis C than people with private insurance.
Thanks to advocacy efforts you supported this spring, the state committed to expand treatment to more people. Despite this, Maryland is not currently planning to provide the cure to everyone with hepatitis C, even though it has the funds to do so. I am sure you agree that everyone who has the disease should have access to the cure. Together let’s keep the pressure on the Governor to provide equal access to life-saving health care, so that the next time Regina walks into the clinic, I can tell her, “There’s a cure for that. Let’s get started.”
Voice your support!
Tell Governor Hogan to make the hep C cure available to ALL at firstname.lastname@example.org