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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Of drug costs, Medicaid, and a budget that gives lawmaker a headache…

As questioning began in the Medicaid budget hearing this morning, Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, told Medicaid Administrator Lisa Hettinger, “Your budget always gives me a headache. There is so much to grasp.” He had questions about a supplemental budget request for drug payments for a new drug for hepatitis-C; the request is for $1.9 million in state general funds and spending authority for $4.6 million in federal funds. “Do we have any choice?” Cameron asked. “This is a covered drug,” Hettinger responded. “This is not a treatment for all individuals. … We are only going to be offering this treatment plan to a handful of individuals for whom it’s proven to actually work.”

“What happened before? Nothing,” Hettinger said. “This is actually a drug that is intended to treat and potentially cure an untreatable, fatal condition.” The drug is called Sovaldi, and is for certain patients suffering from liver failure. Hettinger said other drugs are expected to come to the market that could potentially treat other patients, depending on the genus of the disease they have. There’s more info here about hepatitis-C from the Cleveland Clinic, which calls the virus “one of the most important clinical and public health problems facing modern medicine.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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