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Lawmakers Considering Controversial Changes To Lower KanCare Drug Costs

Michael Chen, flickr Creative Commons

A legislative oversight committee is recommending several changes in Kansas’ privatized Medicaid program to save money. One of the recommendations is sparking controversy because it would withhold potentially life-saving treatments from some patients.

Members of a legislative committee that oversees the state’s privatized Medicaid program known as KanCare want to lower pharmacy costs, which have been steadily going up.

They want expensive drugs coming on to the market reviewed before doctors prescribe them to KanCare patients. And they want expensive drugs used to treat Hepatitis C withheld from patients that don’t follow treatment requirements: patients that skip pills, or consume alcohol or drugs while on the medication.

The recommendation, which would require legislators to approve a change in state law, was crafted by Sen. Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican.

“If we have patients that are abusing an $80,000 drug, then there has to be consequences," Denning says.

Hepatitis C is a liver infection that can be spread through needle sharing and sex.

Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, opposed the recommendation, saying that withholding treatment would be tantamount to giving non-compliant patients a death sentence.