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Hepatitis B Foundation Applauds CMS Final Decision to Cover Hepatitis B Screening

Hepatitis B screening test added as a preventive service for Medicare beneficiaries

DOYLESTOWN, PA (Sept. 30, 2016) – The Hepatitis B Foundation (HBF) applauds the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) final decision to cover screening for hepatitis B infection at no cost to individuals entitled to benefits under Medicare Part A or enrolled in Medicare Part B. The CMS decision states that a screening test is covered for individuals who are determined high risk for hepatitis B as identified by a primary care provider in a primary care setting.

“This decision is a significant step forward to identify those with chronic hepatitis B across the U.S., link them to care, and prevent end-stage liver disease and liver cancer,” said Joan Block, RN, BSN, executive director and co-founder of the Hepatitis B Foundation. “While we are pleased with this decision, we must continue to ensure that all individuals at risk for hepatitis B infection have access to this critical preventive service in a broad array of settings, in addition to the primary care setting.”

Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Up to 2.2 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis B infection and approximately 67% are unaware of their infection. Of the identified and reported cases of HBV in the U.S. between 2007 and 2012, 15.6% were over the age of 65 and part of the Medicare covered population. Left untreated, up to 25% of people with hepatitis B develop serious liver problems, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. HBV is a primary risk factor for liver cancer, the second deadliest cancer for men and women.

Hepatitis B is also associated with significant health disparities in the United States, disproportionately impacting Asian American and Pacific Islander and African immigrant communities. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up 50% of the HBV infection burden in the U.S., and have liver cancer rates that are up to 13 times higher than Caucasian populations.

“We are very excited about this new preventive benefit for our Medicare population that will save lives and costs for our health care system, and we are fully committed to working with all of our health care partners in ensuring individuals at high risk for HBV infection are aware of this new service,” Block added.

The CMS Decision Memo for Screening for Hepatitis B Virus Infection is available online at https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/nca-decision-memo.aspx?NCAId=283.

About the Hepatitis B Foundation
The Hepatitis B Foundation is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization solely dedicated to finding a cure for hepatitis B and improving the quality of life for those affected worldwide through research, education and patient advocacy. To learn more, go to www.hepb.org, read our blog at www.hepb.org/blog, follow us on Twitter @HepBFoundation, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hepbfoundation or call 215-489-4900.