Pennsylvania Plan To Limit Hepatitis C Treatment in Prisons ‘Puts Everyone at Risk,’ Opinion Piece Says
Pennsylvania state officials' plan to reduce the number of state prison inmates who are treated for hepatitis C is a "sad commentary on our budget priorities" and a choice that will "pu[t] everyone at risk," Angus Love, executive director of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, writes in a Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece (Love, Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/14). The state Department of Corrections recently announced that state prisons in the fall will treat about 75% fewer inmates for hepatitis C than they currently treat but will provide more targeted care for hepatitis C patients who are most likely to benefit from treatment. Under the new guidelines, the number of inmates receiving treatment will drop from 550 to 130, although the number of inmates with hepatitis C likely will remain constant, at about 23% of the state's prison population, according to Fred Maue, chief of medical services for the department (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/25). "It is far cheaper to treat hepatitis C in our prisons than to let it infect our communities," Love says, adding that the continued spread of the disease both in and out of prison settings "will result in far greater harm and cost to our society." Although Love commends the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for "initially taking the lead in hepatitis C treatment," he says that it is important that they "reconsider curtail[ing] the program." Love concludes, "The health of all concerned is at stake" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.