Louisiana First In Nation To Offer Medicaid Patients Cure For Hepatitis C

Jun 26, 2019

Doctors at the CrescentCare health clinic in New Orleans say a novel treatment plan for Hepatitis C patients could help thousands of residents in need.

Louisiana is becoming the first state in the country to offer treatments for Medicaid patients that virtually cure a person of Hepatitis C. Governor John Bel Edwards and state officials were in New Orleans today at CrescentCare Clinic to formally announce the start of treatments.

Dr. Jason Halperin of Crescent Care Clinic
Credit Eileen Fleming / WWNO

It’s been around for a few years now, but cost $90,000 per person.  The state Health Department negotiated a deal with the drug maker for a generic version. It will have unlimited access to the medicine for five years – it’s been described as a Netflix-type subscription arrangement. The state aims to treat 10,000 people in those five years.

So Dr. Jason Halperin Of CrescentCare has been calling patients to let them know a cure will soon be available.

"This is a game changer for Hepatitis C," he said.

Until now patients had to have regular blood tests. The cure was offered only if the Medicaid patient was very sick – with major liver damage. He says 3,000 people in New Orleans need treatment.

"This infectious disease causes more death than HIV, TB, influenza. Hepatitis C," he said.

The treatment involves taking one pill once a day for 12 weeks. The cure rate is over 95 percent.