More Funding Allows VA to Treat All Veterans Who Have Hepatitis C

MARCH 11, 2016
Catherine Kolonko
Hepatitis C treatment will now be made available to all US military veterans who are infected with the virus as a result of recent expanded federal funding, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs announcement.
 
It is expected that many more veterans “will be started on hepatitis C treatment every week this fiscal year,” as a result of recent increased congressional funding, a VA release states. 
 
The announcement that the VA can now fund care for all veterans with hepatitis arrives after a year of controversy surrounding high prices for hepatitis C drugs and criticism of the department over lag time of doctor appointments for veterans in need of medical care. The VA department estimates that it will spend $1 billion in fiscal year 2016 just on hepatitis C drugs.
 
“We’re honored to be able to expand treatment for Veterans who are afflicted with hepatitis C,” VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin said in a release. “To manage limited resources previously, we established treatment priority for the sickest patients.”
 
“Additionally, if Veterans are currently waiting on an appointment for community care through the Choice Program, they can now turn to their local VA facility for this treatment or can elect to continue to receive treatment through the Choice Program,” he said.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that roughly 3 million people are infected with hepatitis C, a bloodborne virus that can seriously damage the liver over time. Many are veterans of the US military.



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