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Baker Hepatitis C Bill Signed Into Law

Legislation to require physicians to offer hepatitis C screening

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 24, 2016

HARRISBURG – Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter), chairman of the House Health Committee, announced today that his legislation to require physicians to offer hepatitis C screening to patients born between 1945 and 1965 has been signed into law.

“This new law requires individuals born between 1945 and 1965, the baby boomer generation, to be offered hepatitis C testing when receiving health services as an inpatient in a hospital or when receiving primary care services in an outpatient department of a hospital, health care facility or physician’s office,” said Baker. “This new law will help keep Pennsylvanians safe by offering testing to those most likely to have hepatitis C but are unaware of their blood infection. By increasing testing opportunities, it will ensure that more individuals living with this virus become aware of their infection status and get available treatment for which over 90 percent can be cured.”

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. It is one of the more common blood-borne infections in the United States, with an estimated 4 million individuals infected and half of those individuals being undiagnosed. Hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver cancer and the leading cause of liver transplants.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hepatitis C is most prevalent in the baby boomer generation. Many individuals were infected because the nation’s blood supply was not screened for hepatitis C until 1992. In 2012, the CDC released guidelines recommending those born between 1945 and 1965 get tested for hepatitis C.

Baker said that active screening for hepatitis C, as opposed to waiting for symptoms and more serious diseases to arise from having the disease, results in major cost savings for taxpayers. In fact, the estimated medical costs associated with treating baby boomers with hepatitis C, many of whom will age into the Medicare system at age 65, will rise from $30 billion in 2009 to $85 billion annually by 2024.

“I am pleased this legislation was signed into law,” said Baker. “I am hopeful we will be able to discover individuals who have the disease and provide them with effective medical treatment, and possibly even a cure. Through diagnosis, patients are in a position of power in which they can make informed decisions about their health care.”

Similar legislation has also been enacted in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Colorado.

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