A new article from reporter Sony Salzman of Al Jazeera America speaks to the issue of health insurance providers’ denial of Hepatitis C medications that are highly effective but also very costly. “How Insurance Providers Deny Hepatitis C Patients Lifesaving Drugs” uses data from the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation’s work on increasing access to HCV medications, as well as quotes from CHLPI’s Director, Robert Greenwald.
Excerpt from the article:
“Some of these policies are on shaky legal ground, according to Robert Greenwald, director of Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, Cambridge, Massachusetts. For example, Greenwald believes some state Medicaid programs are violating federal Medicaid law with excessive hepatitis C prior-authorization rules. In addition, private insurance companies are violating their own contracts, which promise to provide “medically necessary” services to covered patients. “They are completely abrogating their obligation to provide these services in hepatitis C solely based on cost,” Greenwald said…
…To Greenwald, there is no question that many denial-of-coverage tactics are discriminatory. Hepatitis C patients are specifically targeted by excessive restrictions — policies that would not be tolerated in any other disease. For example, insurance providers are willing to cover chemotherapy for lung cancer patients who still smoke, Greenwald said. Greenwald believes hepatitis C lacks a strong advocacy movement because sufferers constitute a vulnerable, stigmatized population that is easy to ignore.”