Eustace Urges Better Care, Awareness on World Hepatitis Day

World Health Organization Working to Eliminate Hepatitis B & C by 2030

Assemblyman Tim Eustace is urging New Jersey residents, health care professionals and health insurers to unite in an effort to eliminate hepatitis viruses by the year 2030.

On World Hepatitis Day, Eustace, the sponsor of legislation aimed at increasing access to hepatitis treatment, joins the World Health Organization in calling for an end to hepatitis. Although viral hepatitis kills more people worldwide than HIV and other diseases combined, many do not perceive it as a major health threat, said Eustace.

“Virtually everyone who has hepatitis C can be cured in just a couple of months, but unfortunately, either because they cannot access proper treatment or because they simply are unaware that they have the disease, many of those who are chronically infected develop cirrhosis or liver cancer,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Enabling more people to get vaccines, testing and treatment can put the goal of eliminating viral hepatitis within reach.”

Legislation Eustace recently introduced (A-5090) would require health benefits plans issued pursuant to the New Jersey Individual Coverage and Small Employer Health Benefits programs, the State Health Benefits Commission and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Commission to provide coverage for medication and treatment for hepatitis C.

The bill specifically prohibits denial of coverage if the covered person uses drugs or alcohol, the disease has not reached an advanced stage or the prescribing health care professional is not a specialist. The measure was referred to the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

More than 150,000 people in New Jersey have hepatitis C, the most common form of viral hepatitis. The disease disproportionately affects the Baby Boomer population, a trend the legislature is taking action to address.

“No one should die from hepatitis C, especially given recent advances in treatment for this curable disease,” said Eustace. “The costs associated with testing and treatment are nothing in comparison to the cost of liver disease, liver transplants and needless loss of life.”