Thursday, March 10, 2016

VA To Cover Hep C Treatments Again

With More Funding, VA to Cover Vets Requiring Hepatitis C Treatments

by Bryant Jordan
Mar 10, 2016

The Veterans Affairs Department said Wednesday it will now be able to cover the costs of caring for all veterans with hepatitis C for the current fiscal year, regardless of the stage of the patient's liver disease.

VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin said the expanded care is the result of increased funding from Congress as well as reduced drug prices.

The department last year allocated $696 million for new hepatitis C drugs, accounting for 17 percent of the VA's total pharmacy budget. In fiscal 2016, which began Oct. 1, the VA expects to spend about $1 billion on hepatitis C drugs.

"We're honored to be able to expand treatment for Veterans who are afflicted with hepatitis C," Shulkin said in a statement. "To manage limited resources previously, we established treatment priority for the sickest patients."

With the expansion, the VA now expects many more veterans will be started on hepatitis C treatment every week through the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The department statement did not address 2017 costs, though it has requested $1.5 billion in its next-year's budget for the hepatitis C treatments and clinical resources.
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