New Jersey to Pay for Testing of, Treatment for Prison Inmates With Hepatitis C
New Jersey state officials on Wednesday announced that beginning today the state will pay for hepatitis C testing and treatment for prisoners who are infected with the virus, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Ralph Siegel, spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, said that the state, under a new agreement with prison medical provider Correctional Medical Services, would cover the cost of hepatitis C testing, medications and any additional staff needed to administer the program. Siegel said the exact cost of the hepatitis program is "unclear." Other states with similar programs have reported spending $15,000 to $25,000 per inmate on testing, monitoring and "expensive" drugs. New Jersey, which has identified 1,170 HCV-positive inmates and is facing "epidemic levels" of the virus, is currently the only one of the 10 most populous states that does not provide hepatitis C treatment to inmates (Fazlollah/Lin, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/31). Last month a former New Jersey prison inmate filed a lawsuit charging the corrections department and CMS with medical malpractice for allegedly withholding treatment from HCV-positive inmates because of the cost (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.