KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Kansas Panel Approves Medicaid Changes For Hepatitis C Patients

Recipients who drink alcohol or go off their medications would lose their coverage in a new set of recommendations from a legislative oversight committee.

The Associated Press: Panel OKs Dropping Medicaid For Some Kansas Hepatitis C Patients
A Kansas legislative panel is recommending that hepatitis C patients who drink alcohol or stop using their medications should lose Medicaid coverage. The KanCare Oversight Committee also recommended this week that the state health department use step therapy, which requires Medicaid patients to try cheaper treatments first and receive more expensive treatments only if the other medicines fail. State law currently forbids that practice. (1/1)

Kansas Health Institute: Lawmakers Consider Controversial Changes To Reduce KanCare Drug Costs
A legislative oversight committee has approved a controversial set of draft recommendations aimed at reducing the cost of drugs provided to Kansas Medicaid recipients. The joint committee that oversees the state’s privatized Medicaid program known as KanCare this week tentatively approved recommendations that direct the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to develop policies aimed at slowing a steady increase in the $3 billion program’s pharmacy costs. The most controversial of the recommendations calls for withholding expensive hepatitis C drugs from KanCare recipients who don’t follow treatment requirements, such as patients who fail to take all their pills or consume nonprescription drugs or alcohol during treatment. (McLean, 12/20)

Wichita (Kan.) Eagle: Senator: Cut Medicaid For Hepatitis C Patients Who Drink Alcohol, Go Off Meds
Medicaid recipients being treated for hepatitis C who drink alcohol or go off their medication would lose coverage under a recommendation passed by a legislative panel Tuesday. Sen. Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, proposed that the state not cover high-cost medications for hepatitis C patients who don’t comply with treatment requirements. The proposal came toward the end of an all-day meeting of the KanCare Oversight Committee. (Lowry, 12/29)

NPR: States Deny Pricey Hepatitis C Drugs To Most Medicaid Patients
In the last few years, new medications have come on the market that can cure hepatitis C with a more than 90 percent success rate. But these new drugs are famously expensive. A full 12-week course of Harvoni costs about $95,000. Because of that, Medicaid in many states restricts who receives the medication. Medicaid in at least 34 states doesn't pay for treatment unless a patient already has liver damage, according to a report released in August. There are exceptions—for example, people who also have HIV or who have had liver transplants—but many living with chronic hepatitis C infection have to wait and worry. (Harper, 12/27)

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