Project INSPIRE — CMS-funded Innovations Award


The NYC Department of Health has announced the receipt of a new grant from the Federal government to improve treatment for hepatitis C. The grant will allow the Health Department, in conjunction with the Fund for Public Health in New York, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, VNSNY Choice and HealthFirst, to focus on new hepatitis C projects. This new $10 million Healthcare Innovation Award will go toward Project INSPIRE NYC (Innovate & Network to Stop HCV & Prevent complications via Integrating care, Responding to needs and Engaging patients & providers). Project INSPIRE aims to achieve better care, improved overall health, and lower total costs.

The full press release can be read by following  this link, or by reading the full text below.


Monday, July 28, 2014

(347) 396-4177


New Yorkers can text “LIVER” to 877-877 to learn more about hepatitis and find testing and care sites

Today is the 7th annual World Hepatitis Day

July 28, 2014 – The Health Department, the Fund for Public Health in New York and five community partners – the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Cornell Medical College, VNSNY Choice and HealthFirst – announced today that they have received a $10 million Health Care Innovation Award from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services to focus on hepatitis C (HCV). Project INSPIRE NYC (Innovate & Network to Stop HCV & Prevent complications via Integrating care, Responding to needs and Engaging patients & providers) aims to achieve:

  1. Better care, by increasing the number of patients starting hepatitis C therapy, strengthening management of behavioral health problems, reducing hospitalizations and emergency department visits, and maintaining a high level of satisfaction among enrollees;
  2. Better health, with increased hepatitis C cure rates, fewer hepatitis C-related complications, and increased screening for depression and alcohol abuse; and
  3. Lower costs, by reducing expenses from preventable hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and complications of hepatitis C infection.

“Project INSPIRE NYC brings together an outstanding partnership for an innovative model for increased access to much-needed care for people with hepatitis C in New York City,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “It responds to advances in medical care that now make chronic hepatitis C a curable disease. And it can be sustained and replicated on a larger scale. Far too many New Yorkers are infected, but haven’t been tested and treated. This grant is one part of the Department’s response to this deadly epidemic.”

An estimated 146,500 New Yorkers have chronic hepatitis C, though about half do not know that they are infected. Hepatitis C is a liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with hepatitis C enters the blood stream of someone who is not infected. Today, people most often become infected with hepatitis C by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions.

Most people living with hepatitis C have few symptoms of illness until 10 to 30 years after initial infection, when life-threatening complications can develop. People with hepatitis C are at risk for developing cirrhosis, liver cancer, and other types of liver damage.

Given unprecedented advances in hepatitis C treatment, a cure has become achievable for most. Treatment is now shorter, less toxic, and more effective than in the past. Most people with hepatitis C can be cured by taking antiviral medication for several months. Being cured means that no virus is found in the blood a few months after finishing treatment. Through Project INSPIRE NYC, the Health Department will work with community partners to increase the number of patients starting hepatitis C therapy.

“This innovative model of care builds on our strengths and commitment to our community and will avert deadly consequences of chronic hepatitis C for many people living in the Bronx,” said Dr. Alain Litwin, Professor of Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“World Hepatitis Day and African American Hepatitis C Day bring important attention to a serious health issue that affects some of New York City’s most vulnerable individuals,” said Christopher Palmieri President and CEO of VNSNY Choice. “VNSNY CHOICE SelectHealth, a Medicaid HIV Special Needs Plan that serves a significant HCV population, is honored to partner with the FPHNY, NYC DOHMH, HealthFirst, and Project INSPIRE’s esteemed clinical partners. Our work to demonstrate the financial feasibility and cost effectiveness of this innovative new treatment approach is aimed at identifying a more efficient and sustainable funding model to support New Yorkers with chronic HCV infection. We’re proud to be at the forefront of such a forward-looking community health initiative that provides economically viable managed care coordination for some of our city’s most vulnerable individuals, and we are excited about the potential for this innovative model to be adapted nationwide.”

The Health Department intends to increase awareness of hepatitis C infection, increase hepatitis C screening and diagnosis, improve linkage to care and increase treatment capacity and access to care through educating the public and health care providers. To that end, the Health Department has developed and published a Hepatitis C Strategic Plan to outline interventions aimed at increasing the New York City health care system’s capacity to address hepatitis C infection, implement testing recommendations, and increase access to new treatments. Many of the key areas stressed in this strategic plan are addressed in Project INSPIRE NYC, such as increasing provider awareness and partnering with public health and academic medical centers to improve the hepatitis C public health care system.

To help the public and providers become more aware about hepatitis C, the Health Department has created and updated a number of tools for patients and providers:

New Online and Digital Materials

  • Public Service Announcement – Hepatitis C: Get Tested, Get Cured! This video highlights the risks of hepatitis C, and emphasizes the importance of testing and treatment.
  • Updated hepatitis C website and site locator
  • Texting Service – Text “LIVER” to 877-877for hepatitis information, testing and care sites, and liver health tips.
  • NYC Hepatitis C App – A free, convenient central hub of information and resources, including an interactive hepatitis C risk assessment, self-management checklist, basic education, connection to support groups, and NYC hepatitis C testing and care resources. New Print Materials

For more information, search “hepatitis C” at


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