Illinois expands Medicaid access to hepatitis C drugs

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois is allowing more hepatitis C patients on Medicaid to access drugs that can cure the potentially fatal disease.

The Chicago Tribune reports the state relaxed a 2-year-old policy that had limited drug coverage to just the sickest patients, or those with stage 4 liver scarring.

Now, Medicaid will cover drug costs for those with stage 3 scarring.

John Hoffman is a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. He told the Tribune the previous policy was “designed to provide care within the state’s fiscal restraints for those facing the most need.”

The drugs can cost up to $94,500 for one 12-week regimen. But increased competition means prices are declining.

According to state data, 12,000 Illinoisans covered by Medicaid had hepatitis C as of last year.