Baker's hepatitis C screening bill gains House approval

HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania House of Representatives this week approved House Bill 59 authored by Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter), chairman of the House Health Committee, that would require physicians to offer hepatitis C screening to patients born between 1945 and 1965.

"If it is determined a patient tests positive for hepatitis C, he or she would then be offered follow-up health care," said Baker. "Treatment today can vastly improve a person's quality of life and result in better health outcomes, including being cured of the disease."

Baker noted that actively screening for hepatitis C, as opposed to waiting for symptoms and more serious diseases to arise from having the disease, will also result in major cost savings for taxpayers. In fact, the estimated medical costs associated with treating Baby Boomers with hepatitis C, many of whom will age into the Medicare system at age 65, will rise from $30 billion in 2009 to $85 billion annually by 2024.

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