Should Colorado Inmates Be Cured of Hepatitis C?

Photo of an elderly manDid you know there is a cure for chronic hepatitis C? It has a 95 percent effective rate—much better than the 40 percent rate touted by older treatments. Better yet, this cure has fewer side effects than old treatments, but there’s a catch. This treatment can be very costly, and it may be that cost that’s keeping thousands of Colorado inmates from getting treated.

Could Colorado Inmates Be Cured of Hepatitis C?

An Aurora mother is applauding a new federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the state of Colorado. That’s because her son has chronic hepatitis C, and he also happens to be an inmate at Arrowhead Correctional Center in Canon City. You see, the ACLU’s lawsuit claims that Colorado is denying inmates newer more effective treatments for hepatitis C, which can be a life-threatening illness.

Hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis of the liver and can even lead to liver cancer. When these cases become that severe, a liver transplant is often the only solution. However, new treatments can cure this disease and save patients from these life-threatening results. So, why is the state not curing inmates? The ACLU says cost.

It can cost around $50,000 to cure an inmate. With an estimated 2,000 inmates infected with the disease, the costs can add up fast. However, the ACLU says that the cost of not treating these inmates could result in even higher medical costs once these prisoners are released. This includes the cost of treatments and transplants, costs that taxpayers could wind up paying depending on the former inmate’s insurance options. Plus, the ACLU’s lawsuit claims that the state is entitled to care for these inmates under the Eight Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

For now, only 80 inmates in Colorado have been treated for hepatitis C using new treatments, but this mom from Aurora hopes that will soon change. Do you think the ACLU case will be successful?

The Colorado safety lawyers at Metier Law Firm will continue to monitor this case.