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Regardless of Politics, Supreme Court Ruling Benefits Hepatitis C

Nicole Cutler L.Ac. July 10, 2012

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Representing progress for the Hepatitis C community, healthcare reform seems to be gaining momentum.

Democrats and Republicans appear to be divided on President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Despite the apparent divide, the future of Hepatitis C looks brighter in light of the late June 2012 Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ACA.

In a 5-4 ruling based on the power of Congress to impose taxes, the Supreme Court preserved the law’s mandate requiring Americans to obtain health insurance by 2014 or pay a tax. The ACA is expected to extend medical coverage to more than 30 million U.S. citizens who currently lack health insurance. Besides requiring Americans to have health coverage, the Supreme Court ruling helps ensure other elements of the ACA, such as:

  • Allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26
  • Prohibiting insurers from denying benefits to those with preexisting conditions

There is a lot more red tape to wade through before Obama’s healthcare reform becomes reality. However, the highest court’s ruling endorses the concept that health insurers may not deny coverage due to a preexisting condition. This part of the ACA represents a major victory in the battle against Hepatitis C.

Statistics estimate that:

  • 1 in 33 baby boomers have Hepatitis C
  • approximately 5 million Americans have Hepatitis C
  • about three-quarters of those infected with Hepatitis C don’t yet know it

As such, a government proposal that all baby boomers get tested for the infectious liver virus is drawing high praise for its potential health benefits. With widespread testing comes greater awareness of who has Hepatitis C – and more with this illness can finally get treatment for it. This is especially poignant because Hepatitis C is easier to address before it progresses to the more advanced stages of liver disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that passage of this proposal could save more than 120,000 lives. In addition, diagnosing Hepatitis C enables those infected to take better precautions that will help prevent its spread.

A drawback of requiring all baby boomers get tested for Hepatitis C is the unintended consequence of detecting a “preexisting condition” that could prevent someone from being insurable. Experts in health insurance warn that boomers who test positive for Hepatitis C before being approved may endanger their chances for coverage. According to CDC officials, about a third of those diagnosed with Hepatitis C currently do not have health insurance. Susan M. Pisano, vice president of communications for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the national trade association representing the industry, concurs that Hepatitis C is one of several chronic, life-threatening diseases that can exclude people from being insured.

Under the Obama Administration’s health reform law, insurers would not be able to reject adults with Hepatitis C or another preexisting condition starting in 2014. Advocates of the ACA and those with the goal of reducing the burden Hepatitis C places on our society pray that insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage based on a Hepatitis C diagnosis.

Potentially just two years away, continued support of Obama’s healthcare reform will transform the burden of Hepatitis C infection. Without fear of being rejected by a health insurer, it will be easier to test for and diagnose Hepatitis C, enabling those affected to seek help before it is too late. With greater availability to healthcare, infected individuals can prevent infecting others – regardless of their political ties. The recent Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act is not the final chapter in health insurance eligibility, but it does bring us one step closer to victory over Hepatitis C – for all Americans, despite their political affiliation.

References:

http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/19/12285739-boomers-hep-c-tests-may-torpedo-insurance-chances-experts-say?lite, Boomers’ Hep C Tests May Torpedo Insurance Chances, Experts Say, JoNel Aleccia, Retrieved July 8, 2012, msnbc.com, 2012.

http://www.healthcare.gov/law/features/choices/pre-existing-condition-insurance-plan/index.html, Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), Retrieved July 8, 2012, US Department of Health and Human Services, 2012.

http://www.hepmag.com/articles/affordable_care_act_obamacare_aca_2501_22626.shtml, Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Act, Individual Mandate, Retrieved July 8, 2012, Smart & Strong, 2012.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/28/us-usa-healthcare-court-idUSBRE85R06420120628?feedType=RSS&feedName=healthNews&rpc=69, Top court upholds healthcare law in Obama triumph, James Vicini, et al, Retrieved July 8, 2012, Thomson Reuters, 2012.

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17 Comments

  • El Paso says:

    Please do not risk your credibility by endorsing this policy, the capitalistic answer is well on its way, the pharmaceutical companies know and have been working on this issue for a while, and they do know the financial rewards due to the number of us boomers that may be at risk. You did endorse this Obamacare, so you are indeed taking sides, do not try to veil it.

  • LFRD says:

    Absolutely to ElPaso!! I find it funny that companies who DO indorse this Obamacare plan, are trying with every breath and word spoken, to always state in some point that they don’t take a yea or nea stance on it. You are also correct ElPaso that pharma companies are salavating as we speak, as well the people with $ to heavily invest in these companies. Obamacare is an insult to our Constitution and a whittle away of it. They can throw me in jail or camp or whatever.
    Look for more opposition than acceptance of this tax or fine or slaughter in the future.
    Thanks for the stand ElPaso.
    Thanks be to God for people in the USA that still have common sense.

  • James Majors says:

    health insurance must be paid for somehow to help those who cannot help themselves

    • Al says:

      Hmm…..sorry don’t agree that I should HAVE TO pay for someone else’s health care……I have to find a way to pay for mine? right? but if I CHOOSE to help someone should be my right NOT Congress, President or anyone else in DC. No one is helping me keep my job or business but me putting in the hours, reinventing myself to stay employed or in business, sacrificing, cutting back and looking for ways to save.

      • Mike says:

        I agree! But if you listen to Obama, “If you own a successful business, You didn’t do that! Some one else made that happen, not you!” Referring to big government.

        • LFRD says:

          Big Government is NOT the answer and I didn’t get help with starting and running my own business. What a big head Mr. O has huh. I think he is delusional.

        • fasteddief says:

          You have misunderstood the point. Of course you made your own success happen. But no one could succeed in most businesses without roads, sewage removal, electricity etc. etc. These government-backed betterments are essential. I know I couldn’t run my business without this type of government assistance. In all honesty, could you run your business without some government help?

  • Gee says:

    The real issue should not be “preexisting conditions”..it should be the COST of medical care and medications…NOT the insurance or denial of such due to pre existing conditions..

    • LFRD says:

      I get what you are saying….it doesn’t matter if you are not accepted or not, it’s that w/pre-existing, they will charge an exorbitant amount of $ for coverage.
      What our wonderful government doesn’t understand is—if a person had the $ to buy insurance, they would have already have had it…right? But I do not believe it is necessarily insurance control or problem, because I don’t believe in government controling free markets, but the medical industry plays a game. If insurance is going to pay so much (or limit of so much) then we will go up alot of $. If a person doesn’t have insurance and will pay right at the time of service or treatment, it cost the patient half as much. It all seems to be a game and if you don’t know how to play, then you lose. With Obamacare, all of America loses.
      Gotta love Socialism huh.

      • Gee says:

        Absolutely…..it has to do with Insuranc companies having to pay the rising costs of medication and medical care itself..as you say…if people could afford Insurance, they would have it already….well done Obama…good reesearch on your part….NOT!!!
        Just saying

        • Steve Smith says:

          and what have the republicans done? what proposals do they have…. answer- NOTHING, get real

          • Gee says:

            It isn’t the republicans or Democrats my friend…it is Government doing business as usual…

  • Tami Haase says:

    If ACA is fully implemented, beware there will be rationing with these high dollar drugs. I called Incicik makers & there WAS help if your willing to do the work of making phone calls & paperwork. I wanted to do the treatment BEFORE ACA is implemented. Rationing who is a good candidate for treatment & let’s not forget your age! Bureaucrats will decide for you, not your doctor.

    • dragon slayer says:

      I am on treatment with Incivek, have horrible health insurance because of having hep c. Vertex, the maker of Incivek, paid for 12 weeks of it, which is the length of that part of the treatment. Two other foundations helped as well, saving me $17,000. Not too many phone calls or paperwork for that amount of savings!

  • James Majors says:

    My problem is that although i had health insurance when it was diagnosed.they sorta denied me because they raised my rates so high that i could no longer afford health insurance.The bill got to be about 2200.00 a month for two people to be on this plan. having cancer and chrossis does not make it easy to earn a living so it is really hard to pay these amounts. i think i should still be insured because i insured myself against this sort of thing and it isnt over eitheri will have medical bills for the rest of my life for this virus wich i insured myself against or so i thought.i did however get a transplant but still lost my insurance soon after.I am doing wonderful thanks to the great care i got and still get from the staff at the cleveland clinic liver transplant center.They are absolutly the best.. [email protected] for anyone that would like to comment to me personally .i was transplanted on march 15.2012 by dr. Hoshimoto my personal hero….

  • kelly says:

    I am amazed at some of the ignorance being spewed as fact by some of these people. I am in the insurance business and own a small business. The government will not be running the health care industry as so many of you state. The medical professionals and insurance companies will still be running the system under new federal guidelines to be implemented. This is a very positive step in the right direction! We have a national health program now firmly in place called the emergency room. You are all paying for it with the exorbitant health care costs that are absorbed by the hospitals and passed on to you, the taxpayer. Some of you hate our government so much you cannot see the forest because of the trees.

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