Deadline: Tues, April 30th at 5PM. We welcome sign-ons from companies in addition to organizations on this letter. However, individuals will not be included.
Below is an organizational sign-on letter urging Secretary Sebelius to ensure that Medicare incorporates hepatitis C screening into the Welcome to Medicare exam and the Medicare annual wellness visit. This action would greatly expand HCV testing among those born between 1945 and 1965 and mark a significant step forward in implementing the CDC’s testing guidelines.
The deadline for signing the letter is 5 pm Eastern, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. The letter will be sent to the Secretary on May 1st, the first day of Hepatitis Awareness Month. An initial version of the letter will be presented to a key advisor to Secretary Sebelius on April 10th, so please sign your organization as soon as possible.
To sign this letter, please send name of organization, city, and state to email@example.com
Please forward this widely and encourage other organizations to sign!
The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Secretary Sebelius:
The undersigned organizations strongly urge you to ensure that Medicare incorporates hepatitis C screening into the Welcome to Medicare exam and the Medicare annual wellness visit.
In August, 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated hepatitis C testing recommendations, calling on everyone born between 1945 – 1965 (“Baby Boomers”) to receive a one-time test. It is vital that Medicare play a role in implementing these lifesaving guidelines given the age of its current and incoming beneficiaries and the looming financial impact of hepatitis C on the program. It is estimated that, without any significant changes in current testing practices, the cost of hepatitis C care and treatment to the Medicare program will increase five fold over the next 20 years, from $5 billion to $30 billion per year.
Baby Boomers represent 75% of the more than 4 million cases of hepatitis C in this country. However, the overwhelming majority do not know they are infected. The CDC accurately recognized that the best way to identify these individuals, so that they can benefit from care and treatment before developing late stage liver disease, liver cancer, and/or need a liver transplant, is to ensure everyone in the birth cohort have an opportunity to be tested. Testing everyone in this age range removes stigma associated with the test, thus reducing barriers for the provider and the patient. According to the CDC, this one-time test would result in identifying more than 800,000 cases and avoiding as many as 121,000 deaths.
We urge you to direct Medicare to ensure that all existing and incoming beneficiaries in the birth cohort receive a one-time hepatitis C test. New beneficiaries could be offered testing as part of the “Welcome to Medicare” exam. Existing beneficiaries and those who do not participate in the “Welcome to Medicare” visit could be offered a test in the annual wellness visit. While this would not ensure that every Medicare beneficiary is tested, it would significantly expand the number of people who know they are infected and allow those who need it to access rapidly improving hepatitis C treatment. It would save lives and reduce expensive medical costs to Medicare in treating late stage liver disease and liver cancer.
Incorporating hepatitis C screening into Medicare would fulfill a key action in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis. Your leadership is urgently needed to make sure the goals of your viral hepatitis action plan are realized. Please do everything in your power to make sure that Medicare is leading the way in implementing the CDC hepatitis C testing guidelines.
National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable
List of other organizations information