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June 2014
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  • Hepatitis C: The Silent Epidemic Gains a Voice

    ISMS member, Rashmi K. Chugh, MD, who serves on the Council for Medical Services, testified last week before the Illinois Hepatitis C Task Force on behalf of ISMS.

    During her testimony she stated that ISMS recognizes the "silent epidemic" that Hepatitis C virus (HCV) poses to Illinois and our country. ISMS is developing educational materials, accredited continuing medical education, and a communications plan to raise awareness about this disease among physicians and patients, which includes:  

    • Publicizing the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines on hepatitis C screening and urging primary care physicians to adhere to these important guidelines.
    • Educating members about the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' National Coverage Determination process for screening Hepatitis C virus in adults.
    • Developing strategies to provide HCV-positive persons with greater access to various treatments and therapeutic options.

    ISMS intends to work with Medicare, Medicaid and private payers to ensure that screening and confirmatory tests are covered by the insurers. New drugs to treat Hepatitis C are very expensive, costing as much as $85,000 for a course of treatment. Private insurance plans - if they choose to cover these newer, costlier treatments - may impose significant co-pays and co-insurance on affected patients, and ISMS will advocate for more affordable access to these medications.

    Chugh

    Dr. Chugh (right) testifies before the Illinois Hepatitis C Task Force.

    Dr. Chugh is aboard-certified family medicine physician currently serving as Medical Officer of the DuPage County Health Department, working on behalf of the public health infrastructure that serves as a safety net for many of Illinois' patients in need.  




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