California Bill Aims To Boost Culturally Appropriate Hepatitis B Prevention, Management, Expand Medicaid Coverage for Disease
The California Assembly on Jan. 29 voted 46-16 to approve legislation (AB 158) that would require the state Department of Health Care Services to set up the Hepatitis B Prevention and Management Pilot Program Fund within the Office of Multicultural Health, Asian Week reports. The program would give grants to public and not-for-profit groups in Los Angeles and the Bay Area that have culturally and language-appropriate hepatitis B public awareness campaigns.
In addition, the bill would expand Medicaid coverage to people with chronic hepatitis B who are not yet disabled. According to Asian Week, people with chronic hepatitis currently are only eligible for Medicaid coverage if they are considered disabled by the disease (Swing, Asian Week, 2/6).
According to CDC, Asian-Americans die from hepatitis B-related illnesses, such as liver cancer and cirrhosis, at a rate seven times greater than whites. According to the Asian Liver Center at Stanford University, chronic hepatitis B affects 0.3% of the U.S. population, though more than 50%, or about 700,000 people, of those with hepatitis B are Asian (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 5/17/07).
The bill is now under consideration in the Senate (Asian Week, 2/6).