On November 5, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sent a letter to state Medicaids warning that restrictions to hepatitis C treatment access based on stage of liver disease and/or substance use issues could be in violation of federal law. This is a huge win for advocates across the country who have spoken out against discriminatory barriers to treatment access. NVHR applauds this move by CMS and appreciates efforts by those within the Obama Administration who helped make it happen. We also know that a lot of work is ahead of us to ensure that states act on this letter and that everyone living with hepatitis C has access to curative treatment.
NVHR's ACA Non-Discrimination Rule Comments
On November 9, 2015, NVHR submitted comments in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) concerning Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We suggested several proposals that would strengthen protections for people living with and at risk for hepatitis B and C. Read our comments here.
Syringe Access Congressional Briefings
On October 28, 2015, the Coalition for Syringe Access, of which NVHR is a Steering Committee member, hosted two Congressional briefings highlighting the critical need for syringe services programs (SSPs) as part of a comprehensive response to the opioid and heroin addiction, hepatitis C, HIV, and overdose syndemic gripping the nation. A video is available with highlights from the briefing. Read more about these briefings here and watch a and learn more about the Coalition on its website.
Fact Sheet: The Medical Case for Curing All Hepatitis C Patients
NVHR is proud to release a fact sheet outlining the medical case for curing all hepatitis C patients. This fact sheet can be used to educate policymakers, medical providers and community members about why everyone living with hepatitis C should have access to the cure. Hepatitis C treatment that leads to a cure is the only evidence-based intervention to prevent liver disease progression and “watchful waiting” can in fact be harmful to patients. A majority of hepatitis C patients may be at risk for at least one non-liver medical condition. Providing all hepatitis C patients with access to a cure is the most effective way to eradicate the virus at a population level. Medical experts recommend treatment for all hepatitis C patients as the standard of care. Download a copy of the fact sheet here.
Philadelphia Hepatitis C Grand Rounds
On October 21, 2015, NVHR Executive Director Ryan Clary provided a federal policy update at the Philadelphia Public Health Grand Rounds on Hepatitis C, organized by the city's Department of Public Health and the College of Physicians. Other speakers included Dr. James Buelher, Health Commissioner of the City of Philadelphia, Dr. Kendra Viner, Viral Hepatitis Program Manager at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and Dr. Jay Kostman, Staff Physician at the John Bell Health Center, Philadelphia FIGHT. You can view an archive of the Grand Rounds here.
Hep B United Webinar on Global Movement to Eliminate Hepatitis
On October 28, 2015, Hep B United held a webinar on the global movement to eliminate viral hepatitis. The webinar featured Charles Gore, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance and Dr. Su Wang, Medical Director at The Center for Asian Health at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. You can view an archive of the webinar here.
Improving Outcomes Along the HCV Continuum of Care
Please read this interesting blog post by Dr. Ron Valdiserri, Deputy Assistance Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, describing the hepatitis C continuum of care. As Dr. Valdiserri writes, national, state and local hepatitis C continuum models show that many patients are lost to follow up. However, these promising approaches and the continued sharing of best practices offer hope that we can increase the number of hepatitis C patients who are identified and cured of the disease.