Judge orders Washington Medicaid to provide hepatitis C drug

A federal judge has ordered Washington Medicaid to provide an expensive drug to all hepatitis C patients, not just the sickest ones.

U.S. District Court Judge John C. Coughenour granted a preliminary injunction Friday that forces the state Health Care Authority to stop a 2015 policy that restricted access to the drugs based on a measure of liver scarring, The Seattle Times reported (https://is.gd/GjAfJI ).

The injunction was a response to a class-action lawsuit filed in February on behalf of two clients of Apple Health, which is Washington’s version of Medicaid. The two patients, who represent nearly 28,000 Medicaid enrollees with hepatitis C, were denied the drug Harvoni to treat their hepatitis C infections. It costs about $95,000 for a 12-week treatment.

Harvoni is among the newest drugs that can halt the hepatitis C virus, posting a cure rate of at least 90 percent.

The judge ruled that the agency’s policy was not consistent with existing state and federal Medicaid requirements that drugs be dispensed based on medical need.

“For people who have been living with this disease and feeling like there’s no hope if they can’t get this cure, this is life-changing,” said Eleanor Hamburger, a lawyer with the firm Sirianni, Youtz, Spoonemore and

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