1 Precision Health Economics, 11100 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA, 90025, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 Precision Health Economics, 11100 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA, 90025, USA.
With some Medicaid state programs still restricting patient access to hepatitis C (HCV) treatment, it is important to demonstrate how states could expand treatment access to a broader Medicaid population and balance short-term budget concerns.
We used the HCV Transmission and Progression (TaP) Markov model to quantify the impact of removing restrictions to HCV treatment access on the infected populations, expenditures, and net social value for the North Carolina (NC), Oregon (OR), and Wisconsin (WI) Medicaid programs. Four HCV treatment access scenarios were modeled: 1) Baseline: Patients were treated according to Medicaid disease severity and sobriety requirements in 2015; 2) Remove Sobriety Restrictions: Disease severity restrictions were maintained, but people who inject drugs (PWID) were given access to treatment; 3) Treat Early: All patients, except for PWIDs, regardless of disease severity, were eligible for treatment and the diagnosis rate increased from 50 to 66%; and 4) Remove Access Restrictions: all patients, regardless of disease severity and sobriety, were eligible for treatment. Our key model outputs were: number of infected Medicaid beneficiaries, HCV-related medical and treatment expenditures, total social value, and state Medicaid spending over 10 years.
Across all three states, removing access restrictions resulted in the greatest benefits over 10 years (net social value relative to baseline = $408 M in NC; $408 M in OR; $271 M in WI) and the smallest infected population (5200 in NC; 2000 in OR; 614 in WI). Reduced disease transmission resulted in lower health care expenditures (-$66 M in NC; -$50 M in OR; -$54 M in WI). All of the expanded treatment access policies achieved break-even costs-where total treatment and health care expenditures fell below those of Baseline-in 4 to 8 years. Removing access restrictions yielded the greatest improvement in social value (net of medical expenditures and treatment costs, QALYs valued at $150 K per QALY).
While increasing treatment access in Medicaid will raise short-term costs, it will also provide clear benefits relatively quickly by saving money and improving health within a 10-year window. Patients and taxpayers would benefit by considering these gains and taking a more expansive and long-term view of HCV treatment policies.