Governor Cuomo Signs First-In-Nation Hepatitis C Testing Law

Liz Dawn James photoHospitals and healthcare clinics in New York will now be required to offer baby boomers a test for the hepatitis C virus (HCV) after Governor Cuomo signed a bill backed by a broad coalition of New Yorkers on October 23, 2013. Read our press release online here. Hundreds of VOCAL-NY members traveled to Albany this year to urge lawmakers to help New Yorkers learn their hepatitis C status and take steps to protect their health.

The New York State Department of Health estimates that more than 200,000 New Yorkers are living with HCV, but at least half of infected individuals do not know their status.  HCV is the leading cause of liver disease, including fibrosis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer, and now kills more Americans than HIV/AIDS.

Across New York, about 40% of known HCV infections are in Upstate and on Long Island, and 60% in NYC.  People of color and those in the baby boomer generation are disproportionately affected by HCV. Baby boomers are thought to have five times the prevalence of HCV infection as the general population. Because of this, both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommend HCV screening for baby boomers, and New York public health agencies have followed suit.

Crowd photo 2Fortunately, HCV can be cured.  Medications introduced last year have greatly improved cure rates, and a new generation of HCV medications are expected to be approved by the FDA soon.

The new law, sponsored by Assembly Member Kenneth Zebrowski (D-New City) and Senate Health Committee Chair Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau), will save thousands of lives in the future by connecting people to care to prevent disease progression, and treatment to cure them of the virus.

Learn more here about the new law and why it will improve the health of New Yorkers around the state.

BACKGROUND MATERIALS

- Memo urging Governor Cuomo to sign A1286/S2750 (July 2013)

- Memo of support urging passage of A1286/S2750 (May 2013)

- Estimate of hepatitis C prevalence and rate of undiagnosed infections for select New York counties (June 2013)

List of organizations that have submitted memos of support for A1286/S2750. Note this does not include every organization that has endorsed and submitted a memo of support. (July 2013)

MEDIA COVERAGE

Op-Eds

- Buffalo NewsCuomo should sign bill to offer screening for hepatitis C  (October 21, 2013)

- Journal News & Gannett News: Hepatitis C is widespread problem  (July 26, 2013)

- Syracuse Post-StandardGov. Cuomo should act to expand access to hepatitis C testing (July 6, 2013)

- Albany Times UnionHepatitis C screening law will help with early detection (July 2, 2013)

Articles & Editorials

- Amsterdam News: Cuomo signs bill protecting baby boomers from Hep C (October 31, 2013)

- Albany Times Union “Capitol Confidential” blogCuomo signs bill to promote Hepatitis C testing (October 23, 2013)

- NPR/WNYC: Doctors Recommend Baby Boomers Get Tested For Hepatitis C (July 3, 2013)

- Albany Times Union: Bill require Hepatitis C test offer is OK’d (June 20, 2013)

- Syracuse Post-Standard: State Legislature passes bill requiring doctors to offer hepatitis C tests to baby boomers  (June  20, 2013)

- Journal News: Editorial: Hepatitis C testing a must (July 1, 2013)

PRESS RELEASES

- VOCAL-NY Applauds U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Decision To Strengthen Hepatitis C Screening Recommendation For Baby Boomers; Decision Will Expand Health Insurance Coverage For Testing (June 24, 2013)

New York Senate Passes First-In-Nation Hepatitis C Testing Law, Bill Now Goes to Governor Cuomo (June 20, 2013)

Assembly Passes Major Hepatitis C Testing Bill, Senate Likely To Follow Suit; Bill Would Require Doctors & Hospitals To Offer Hep C Testing To Baby Boomers (June 10, 2013)

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