Guest commentary: Perplexed by governor's veto of hepatitis C bill

The governor recently vetoed Senate Bill 661, which is a cost-saving measure intended to save lives by requiring doctors to offer adults born between 1945 and 1965 a one-time screening test for hepatitis C. As the chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Health, I am perplexed by the reasons given for governor's veto and his unwillingness to reach a compromise or an alternative, other than an outright veto.

One of the primary concerns the governor had was that this measure would change a doctor's standard of care with respect to these patients, but I disagree. The Medical Society, the Centers for Disease Control and every doctor who testified before the Senate Public Health Committee all agreed that doctors should be offering the one-time screening test; however, some doctors are not following their own guidelines. This bill would codify the medical community's current guidelines and recommendations.

I also disagree with the governor's assertion that this bill will cost the state more money. The offer to screen a patient does not cost a dime. Additionally, if a patient accepted a doctor's offer to be screened, the current cost of screening is covered by all forms of insurance, including Medicaid. The cost of the screening test is around $10-$20 per test.

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