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 drug...