The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a joint letter urging state Medicaid administrators to programs comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by ensuring that people with hepatitis c virus (HCV) and substance use disorder can access lifesaving HCV medications, according to an Office of Public Affairs news release.

HCV is a potentially contagious but curable disease caused by a virus that infects the liver. The bloodborne virus can cause lifelong infection, fibrosis (mild to moderate liver scarring), cirrhosis (serious liver scarring), liver cancer, liver failure and death. However, in more than 95% of cases, HCV can be cured with highly effective HCV medications known as direct-acting antivirals (DAAs).

The ADA requires that states provide individuals with disabilities, including substance use disorder, equal opportunity to participate in the state’s Medicaid program. The letter reminds states that both the DOJ and HHS enforce the ADA with respect to state Medicaid programs.

The letter also underlines a settlement agreement between the DOJ and Alabama Medicaid that reversed a policy that had previously denied Medicaid coverage for DAAs to people who had consumed alcohol or illicit drugs within six months prior to treatment.

“Medicaid recipients with substance use disorders are entitled to the same access as others to a cure for hepatitis C,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in the news release. “This letter reminds state Medicaid administrators that they have an obligation to ensure their programs are in compliance with federal civil rights law. The Justice Department stands ready to enforce the ADA in order to eliminate unnecessary barriers that stand in the way of equal access to health care.”

To read more, click #Hepatitis C. There, you’ll find headlines such as “Nearly 40% of People With HCV Are Unaware of Their Status,” “Most People Who Need Hepatitis C Treatment Aren’t Getting It” and “Telemedicine Successful in Treating Hep C Related to Opioid Use Disorder.”