The federal government in general and the Obama administration in particular has been fond of health care legislation. Right after taking office, President Barack Obama signed the Stimulus Bill which included the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health / HITECH Act, which mandated electronic medical records.
Then in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care legislation was signed into law. ACA, also known as health care reform or Obamacare has caused a .lot of controversy including calls for repeal and Supreme Court review.
So what Health Care Legislation is Next?
Then there is the friendly pseudo government group: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC falls under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The CDC focuses on disease prevention and control (especially infectious diseases and food borne pathogens and other microbial infections), environmental health, occupational safety and health, health promotion, injury prevention and education. And their reach extends globally, outside the United States.
Now the CDC is after the baby boomers
ATLANTA — With “baby boomers” believed to account for 75% of the hepatitis C infected population in the U.S. — the CDC is recommending that everyone ages 47 to 67 be tested for infection.
The CDC estimates that some two million Americans born from 1945 to 1965 are infected with HCV — that’s about 3% of the boomer generation. But because many years usually elapse before noticeable symptoms develop, most don’t know they are infected.
The CDC said one-time HCV testing of all “baby boomers” “could identify more than 800,000 additional people with hepatitis C, prevent the costly consequences of liver cancer and other chronic liver diseases, and save more than 120,000 lives.”
“CDC believes this approach will address the largely preventable consequences of this disease, especially in light of newly available therapies that can cure up to 75% of infections,” the agency said in a statement issued Friday.
Most boomers do not have the risk factors that, until now, the CDC had used as the basis for testing recommendations. Those risk factors include use of illegal injected drugs, receiving blood products or organ transplants before HCV testing became routine, known exposures to HCV, presence of hepatitis symptoms, and all patients with HIV.
Vietnam era veterans — all baby boomers — are a well-know risk group due to blood exposure in military field hospitals as well as drug use.
Infection with HCV often leads to liver cancer. However, the recent introduction of HCV protease inhibitors, including telaprevir (Incivek) and boceprevir (Victrelis), has made the disease more manageable, possibly even curable.
The recommendation will be open for public comment from May 22 to June 8, after which the CDC will release a final version.
The CDC also set Saturday, May 19, as “National Hepatitis Testing Day,” and announced that it would make a total of $6.5 million in grants to make testing available to specific populations including Asian-American Pacific Islander communities (which have high rates of hepatitis B infection) and injection drug users, as well as members of the “boomer” generation.
Do you have an opinion on Hepatitis testing?
If you have an opinion about the CDC requiring Hepatitis C testing, you have until June 8 to speak up. Visit http://www.regulations.gov/#!home and search for “CDC-2012-0005-0001”
The CDC only makes recommendations. But it is a government agency. Is more health care legislation coming?
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