Two Maine Inmates Plan To Sue State To Receive Hepatitis C Treatment in Current Facility
Two prisoners at the Bolduc Correctional Facility in Maine are planning to file a lawsuit against the state for not providing hepatitis C treatment at the facility, the Bangor Daily News reports. In order to be treated for hepatitis C, the two inmates would have to be transferred to the Maine State Prison in Warren, which they claim is a "war zone," where stabbings and other attacks routinely occur. The Bolduc facility is "more like a camp" than a prison, according to the inmates, who would prefer to stay there while being treated for hepatitis C. The inmates originally filed a lawsuit in Knox County Superior Court on July 17, but the court returned the suit to the men because they filed it without the $100 filing fee. The men are currently waiting to receive indigent forms from the court so that they can file the suit without the fee. In the lawsuit, the inmates claim that they are being discriminated against because of their disease, noting that the facility provides treatment for inmates living with HIV/AIDS, but it denies care for hepatitis C patients. According to state Department of Corrections Associate Commissioner Denise Lord, 11% of Maine inmates, or 209 prisoners, are infected with hepatitis C, whereas 10 inmates have HIV/AIDS. Lord said that the Department of Corrections is planning to begin a hepatitis C treatment program this fall; however, not all inmates will be eligible for care. Lord said that approximately 51 of the 209 inmates with hepatitis C likely will be eligible for treatment, which costs between $11,000 and $25,000 per person per year, according to the Daily News. The treatment regimen, which includes a combination of pegylated alpha interferons and ribavirin, can last up to 48 weeks, so inmates with short sentences will not have sufficient time to complete the regimen. Corrections officials will also look at factors such as liver function and medical, psychological and substance abuse histories to determine which inmates will receive treatment, according to Ken Fields, a spokesperson for Correctional Medical Services (Robicheau, Bangor Daily News, 8/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.