Most Kansas inmates must wait for hepatitis C treatment

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Although a recent legal settlement means Kansas can't delay care for Medicaid patients with hepatitis C, hundreds of the state's prison inmates will wait another year for the expensive treatment.

Kansas News Service reports state prison officials say more than 700 inmates currently have hepatitis C, which damages the liver. About half will receive treatment this year, starting with those who have liver cirrhosis from the virus.

Civil rights advocates say the delay in treating some inmates could constitute cruel and unusual punishment because inmates have the right to medical care.

Lawsuits have been filed in several states that limited hepatitis C treatment for their Medicaid and prison populations because new, effective drugs can cost up to nearly $100,000 per person. Kansas settled the Medicaid lawsuit last fall.