The policy change, announced Friday evening, means
At least 12,000 Illinoisans covered by
The disease is transmitted primarily through blood contact, meaning drug users who share needles are at risk, as are those who get tattoos in nonsterile conditions and anyone who got a blood transfusion before 1992, when screening of the blood supply began.
A number of other states already relaxed their rules in response to pressure from the federal government, lawsuits and the declining cost of some of the medications.
The announcement followed questions posed to the state by the
In a subsequent email two days later, Hoffman wrote, "While there are no specific proposed changes formally under consideration after the 2014 policy implementation, as circumstances evolve we continually work with medical professionals on the most effective approaches."
The department said in its news release Friday that the changes followed a "thorough review of policy."
Friday's policy change prompted cheering by some advocates for those living with the disease, but they said it doesn't go far enough.
"I think it's a step in the right direction," said Dr.
Doctors often don't request the drugs for
Hoffman said he could not provide specifics Friday evening about how many more people might be helped or when the new policy would take effect.
Medications that started coming on the market several years ago cure the vast majority of those with hepatitis C, and without the debilitating side effects of earlier drugs. But many state
Increased competition among pharmaceutical companies has helped give states better negotiating power to lower costs.
Last year, 623 people in traditional
The state said 753 people in
In 2015, the federal
Earlier this summer, a judge in
"There's a lot of blame to go around," Salo said. "The manufacturers priced this too high, but I also think there's been a total and utter lack of leadership at the federal level to say, 'What should we as a people and a nation be doing about this?'"
Gilead continues to work with Illinois Medicaid to offer rebates "above and beyond those mandated by law," Snyder said.
"I think it's going to save a lot of lives," McAuliffe said.
"It can't help me, but somebody can get help," said Holmes, 62.
He continues to worry about his own future. He's concerned about how sick he'll have to get before the state will cover the medication for him.
"Anytime you're sick and you can't get the medicine, that's a problem," Holmes said.
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