“This situation is completely unacceptable. We have a cure for a serious infectious disease, but people who have taken the time to get tested and know they have hepatitis C are not being cured,” commented Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute. “The vast majority of these people have health coverage but payers such as private insurers, state Medicaid programs, and Medicare are erecting barriers to patient access by not covering medications or requiring cumbersome prior authorizations or imposing high patient cost-sharing. If the federal government is serious about ending hepatitis C, it needs to provide the leadership, particularly at CMS, and address these payer barriers.”
The HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute and 24 other HIV and hepatitis organizations filed an amicus brief in support of the U.S. government in Braidwood Management v. Becerra, the challenge to the ACA’s preventive services coverage requirement, arguing, “A wholesale invalidation of the coverage requirement for USPSTF’s recommendations would strike a critical, unnecessary, and costly blow to the battle to end HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases.”
While not surprised by Judge O’Connor’s decision, which will immediately impact coverage of HIV testing, hepatitis B and C testing, along with PrEP, it is imperative that these critical preventive services must continue for the health of our nation. We expect that the U.S. government will quickly act to stay this decision so that preventive services can continue nationwide, and appeal it.
“President Biden’s budget is yet another demonstration of his leadership in ending HIV. He recognizes the historic role the federal government must play, and the investments needed to end infectious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis C,” commented Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute. “Now, it is essential that Congress works together to ensure it maintains the federal government’s commitment to ending HIV and at the same time, invests the necessary resources to end hepatitis. We also must guard against any erosion in funding of these programs, as some have proposed,” continued Schmid.
Congressional appropriators have released the final FY2023 appropriations bill and have increased funding for the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative by $100 million for a total of $613 million, according to the Appropriations Committee. While far short of the $330 million increase proposed in President Biden’s budget, it does provide increases to ramp up domestic HIV testing, prevention, and treatment programs in order to end HIV.