news State officials begin investigating prison hepatitis C treatment efforts

W.ASSINGTON — Members of Congress, state legislators, regulators and legal advocates have been sent to jail for hepatitis C after a STAT study revealed that more than 1,000 people died from complications of treatable illness. I am asking you to explain the low treatment rates.

In South Dakota and Oklahoma, legislators have sent letters to their respective departments asking them to correct the STAT report. In Nebraska, STAT obtained a policy for the state corrections officer to require an inmate to sign a consent form misrepresenting the benefits of her hepatitis C treatment available to prisons. I requested an explanation. Legislators in other states have also pledged more extensive investigations into the matter.

In Congress, key lawmakers have pledged to work with the Biden administration to find solutions to national problems. Also, the White House is garnering support for her $10 billion national plan to eliminate the virus in the United States.


“As someone who has directly benefited from the remarkable advances in the treatment of hepatitis, especially hepatitis C, over the past decade, it is shocking to see the results of detailed investigations into the preventable disease of STAT. [hepatitis] Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia), co-chair of the House Hepatitis Caucus, who recovered from hepatitis C nearly a decade ago, said:

Rep. Grace Meng, DN.Y., co-chair of the caucuses, said, “The failure of state prisons to distribute known hepatitis C remedies makes it difficult for anyone, including individuals incarcerated. It is unacceptable to die needlessly.” She promised to work with the government to expand access.


A STAT study found that more than 1,000 people in state prisons died from hepatitis C-related complications six years after the drug hit the market. States across the country continue to distribute these curative drugs to portions of their prison populations, and have revealed policies that render most inmates infected with the virus ineligible for treatment.

So far, at both the state and federal levels, Democrats have largely led the charge in holding prisons accountable for their actions. STAT has also reached out to more than a dozen of her GOP state-level legislators on the Health Care and Criminal Justice Commissions in Nebraska, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. No one commented immediately.

In four of the eight states STAT described as doing the worst job of dealing with the virus (Nebraska, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Illinois), officials have already pledged to investigate the matter.

Doug Covenick, the Independent Inspector General for Corrections in Nebraska, sent an inquiry to the state prison system earlier this week, stating that STAT discovered deceptive consent forms that prisoners signed before receiving treatment for the virus. I asked for information that I must.

“It’s a concern to me that patients can be misunderstood by departments,” Koebernick said. “I would like to better understand why they did this and what they are doing to address it.”

A spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services told STAT that the agency was updating the consent form.

Other Nebraska legislators and advocacy groups have warned of lackluster advances in the prison system for treating hepatitis C. STAT reports that the state will treat just nine people with the virus in 2021, making him just over 3% of those known to have the virus.

“This is shocking to me,” said Democratic Sen. Wendy DeBoer, a member of the state judiciary committee. DeBoer told her STAT that she was unaware of her hepatitis C problem prior to the STAT report.

“This is somehow overlooked,” DeVore said, promising Congress would look into the matter.

Senator Terrell McKinney, a Democrat who is also a member of the Judiciary Committee, promised in an interview that he would raise the issue directly with corrections department leaders once a new commissioner is appointed.

“There’s no reason this should happen,” McKinney said. “That is absolutely unacceptable.”

Nebraska ACLU called The STAT findings are “unacceptable and inhumane” and it is also considering litigation to force states to step up treatment.

“We have not drafted a complaint or anything, but we do not intend to withdraw it at this time,” said Mindy Rush Chipman, interim executive director of the ACLU in Nebraska.

A state independent legal expert told STAT that if incarcerated people choose to challenge the policy in court, they will have a good case.

“Thousands of people in Nebraska in need of this life-saving medical care [hepatitis] C has a valid claim under the Eighth Amendment,” said Daniel Jefferis, an assistant professor of law at the University of Nebraska who specializes in prisoner rights.

Ronald Reagan, a retired State District Court Judge who served more than 30 years in Nebraska, further clarified, “I don’t think there’s any question that the state could be in legal trouble.” increase.

“What a stain on our orthodontic system,” he added.

Policymakers in other states have also begun to express concerns about the treatment of hepatitis C virus in prisons.

South Dakota Rep. Jennifer Keentz, a Democrat who serves on the Health and Human Services Commission, said the state treated just seven people for the virus last year, limiting access to only the sickest prisoners. He said the policy enactment was “very concerning”. , as reported by STAT.

South Dakota Senator Linda Duva, a Democrat on the Joint Appropriations Committee, told STAT that she contacted the state’s new Amendment Commissioner directly about the report. Duba told her STAT that her secretary, Kellie Wasko, had already responded and she would “address the issue.”

“The secretary and her staff have a new protocol to implement,” Duba told STAT in an email. “She has over 30 years of corrections experience and is a nurse.”

Democrat Sen. George Young, a member of Oklahoma’s judiciary and health committees, called the Department of Corrections for more information about the high death toll from hepatitis C in the state’s prisons. I contacted Hepatitis C was responsible for at least 84 deaths in Oklahoma from 2014 to 2019. That’s the third-highest number for him of any state, according to a STAT report.

“You warned me about something that I consider very important and important,” Young said. “I don’t know how they got away with not knowing his Hep C numbers, but I kind of missed that sort of thing.”

Young plans to ask the Department of Corrections to provide an explanation of how all those inside Oklahoma’s prisons died, as well as an estimate of how much it would cost to ramp up treatment for the virus in the state.

Rep. La Sean Ford, a Democrat who is active on criminal justice issues in Illinois, also pledged to advocate for better hepatitis C treatments for incarcerated people in the next Congress.

“I’m going to take issue with this,” Ford told STAT. “I will lift this.”

Illinois failed to treat anyone in six prisons last year, STAT reported. At one facility that houses more than 2,000 people, in Illinois he was the only one treated for the virus.

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