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Support of State and Federal Policies that Increase Access to Curative Hepatitis C Treatments


Sponsored by: Sen. Carmelo Ríos (PR); Rep. Angel Cruz (PA); Sen. Iris Martínez (IL); and Sen. Eduardo Bhatia (PR)
WHEREAS, Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease resulting from infection with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV); and,
WHEREAS, Hepatitis C currently affects an estimated 3.5 million people in the United States, with over 18,000 deaths attributable to Hepatitis C in 2016;  and,
WHEREAS, approximately 80 percent of individuals infected with HCV do not have any symptoms;  and
WHEREAS, because of this lack of awareness, the virus commonly remains undiagnosed until serious and frequently irreversible liver damage has occurred;  and,  
WHEREAS, Hepatitis C becomes chronic for 75 to 85 percent of individuals affected with the disease,  causing costly long-term health problems, including cirrhosis, advanced liver disease, liver cancer, and even death;  and,
WHEREAS, Hepatitis C disproportionately affects Latino Americans, the prevalence of the virus is 2.6 percent among Latinos, compared to 1.5 percent of the general population;  and,
WHEREAS, Hepatitis C is a major cause of chronic liver disease, which is a leading cause of death among Hispanics in the United States—in 2014 it was the 6th leading cause of death among Hispanic men and the 3rd leading cause among those aged 55 to 64;  and,
WHEREAS, chronic Hepatitis C in Hispanics is more aggressive and has a higher risk of developing cirrhosis than any other ethnic group or race,  and Hispanic individuals were 40 percent more likely to die from Hepatitis C, compared to Non-Hispanic whites;  and,
WHEREAS, when patients experience disease progression, rising treatment costs can be attributed to liver disease, cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer and societal costs may include employee productivity loss as a result of increased physician visits, hospital stays, sick days, decreased worker status, disability, and potentially death;   and,
WHEREAS, studies estimate that Hepatitis C-related hospitalizations increased 190 percent between 2005 and 2010 at a cost of $3.5 billion;  and,
WHEREAS, new Hepatitis C therapies offer cure rates exceeding 95 percent and carry minimal side effects;  and,
WHEREAS, early detection of Hepatitis C infection promotes effective management and treatment of this infection, preventing disability, loss of productivity and income, and allowing people to live full, satisfying, and productive lives;  and,
WHEREAS, payers are restricting access to these curative medications, often forcing patients to meet a set of extensive, onerous criteria before receiving treatment, or denying treatment coverage altogether;  and,
WHEREAS, commercial payers denied Hepatitis C drug coverage to 52.4 percent of enrolled individuals from 2014 to 2017, while Medicaid and Medicare denied Hepatitis C drug coverage at a rate of 34.5 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively. 
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators recognizes the importance of screening and early detection of Hepatitis C in order to connect infected Americans with treatment and to prevent disease transmission; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators urges federal, state, and local policymakers to implement policies that decrease disparities in death rates from Hepatitis C and related diseases — especially chronic liver disease — between Hispanics and Non-Hispanic whites; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators supports the creation of policies to decrease the disproportionate number of Hispanic Americans suffering from chronic Hepatitis C by improving access to new and innovative treatments; and,
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the National Association of Medicaid Directors and other federal and state government officials, as appropriate.