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Michael P McAuliffe

State switches stance on hepatitis C drugs, expands access, but not all Medicaid patients qualify

State switches stance on hepatitis C drugs, expands access, but not all Medicaid patients qualify

The state of Illinois has backed off a 2-year-old policy that allowed only its sickest residents with hepatitis C who rely on the traditional Medicaid program to get disease-curing drugs.

The policy change, announced Friday evening, means Illinois residents on Medicaid with stage 3 liver scarring — not just the sickest patients with stage 4 liver scarring — will be able to access the drugs. If left untreated, hepatitis C can lead to liver failure, cancer and even death.

At least 12,000 Illinoisans covered by Medicaid had been diagnosed with hepatitis C as of last year, according to the state.

The disease is transmitted primarily through blood contact, meaning...

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