News & Events

November:

Awareness, Engagement, Empowerment Committee Meeting

The Awareness, Engagement, and Empowerment committee met on November 13 to discuss a promotional campaign and alternative sources of media.

Click here for meeting notes: Awareness Engagement Minute 11-13 Minutes

Steering Committee Meeting

The Steering Committee met on October 9 from 1-3PM at the Boston Living Center, 29 Stanhope Street in Boston. Meeting highlights included plans for a SSP Community Meeting in Fitchburg, working with BASAS and OTPs to integrate HCV into substance addiction treatment, planning for the 2018 HCV legislative briefing to be held at the State House.

Click here for meeting notes: EndHepCMA Steering Committee – November 2017 Notes

October:

October Coalition Meeting

The Coalition met on October 3 from 1-4PM at Saint Anthony’s Shrine in Boston. This meeting included a presentation Joel Thompson, Staff Attorney at Prisoners’ Legal Services on Hepatitis C treatment access in the Massachusetts Prison System in addition to committee breakout sessions and a open forum on the National Academies Report for Hepatitis C Elimination.

Click here for meeting notes: EndHepCMA_Notes_10.3.17

Click here for presentation slides: EndHepCMA Meeting 2017.10.3 (3)

September:

Train the Trainer

In partnership with HCV Advocate, EndHepCMA hosted a train the trainer workshop at Bay State Health in Springfield, MA. 43 community health workers, providers, and testing counselors were educated on the basics of HCV transmission, prevention, disease progression, and treatment.

Awareness, Engagement, Empowerment Committee Meeting

The Awareness, Engagement, and Empowerment Committee met on September 11 to discuss the development of a targeted awareness campaign. Given the existing focus of public awareness geared toward baby boomers, this committee opted to focus the messaging toward youth, active injection drug users, and those in recovery. We will pursue options for a mass-media poster campaign, with imagery and simple language reflecting the mode of transmission, ease of treatment, and insurance access.

If you are interested in getting involved in the development of this campaign, please contact rbaker@vpi.org.

August 2017:

Coalition Comments for MassHealth 1115 Demonstration Waiver Request

The Coalition drafted comments dictating our concern with the proposed changes to MassHealth. We are concerned that several proposals will decrease access and affordability of HCV care to low-income individuals.

MassHealth proposes:

Click the link below to read the statement in full.

MassHealth 1115 Demonstration Waiver Amendment Request

July 2017:

Harm Reduction & Prevention Meeting Notes 7/10

The Harm Reduction and Prevention Committee met at ABH in Natick to discuss the Coalition’s role in increasing access to Syringe Services Programs in Massachusetts. Assistant Commissioner of MA DPH Kevin Cranston provided an overview of current practices and funding. The Committee will target high need regions in the state and determine what steps are needed to bring SSPs to these communities.

Harm Reduction Committee Notes 7/10

$2.5 Million in recommended HCV funding vetoed by Governor Baker

Governor Baker vetoed $2.5 million in recommended funding for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C in the Department of Public Health Line-item 4512-0103.
This cut pulls crucial funding away from the service providers who combat Hepatitis C—the most deadly infectious disease currently facing our state.

In recognition of World Hepatitis Day, the Coalition advocated for restoration of this funding through a legislative call to action.

World Hepatitis Day – Legislative Call To Action.

Proposed Cuts to MassHealth Hurt Those Living With HCV

Governor Baker is proposing to reform MassHealth as part of the current budget process. This proposal includes numerous  policies that would negatively impact access to care for people living with Hepatitis C.  While the reform package has a lot of elements, the most concerning proposals with regard to Hepatitis C are:

The Coalition will be submitting written testimony regarding these changes prior to the submission deadline of August 21. Chair of our Insurance Access Committee, Phil Waters will be soliciting input to draft the Coalition’s public testimony regarding these changes. Please contact him at pwaters@harvard.law.edu to submit recommendations. 

Summer Newsletter:

EndHepCMA July Newsletter

Division of Insurance Sensitive Services Definitions:

On July 13th the Division of Insurance hosted a listening session to gather testimony on what services should be defined as “sensitive health services” for the Summary of Payment form. The Coalition advocates that Hepatitis C should be considered a sensitive health service, and therefore kept confidential on the SOP form. Failure to define it as so would likely result in inadvertent disclosure, potentially causing an individual to delay treatment or experience stigma related to the condition. Read the full statement here:

DOI Sensitive Services Listening Session TPs (2)

Harm Reduction & Prevention Committee Meeting:

The Harm Reduction & Prevention Committee met on July 10 at the Association for Behavioral Health in Natick to discuss funding sources and bottlenecks in syringe access in Massachusetts. The committee was fortunate to have Assistant Commissioner of DPH, Kevin Cranston present to discuss the current program and funding sources. The committee agreed to that a priority moving forward will be to assess community need, and work with local health boards to acquire requisite approvals.

For meeting notes, please contact Connie Peters at cpeters@abhmass.org.

June 2017:

Advocacy Letter on Medication Access:

The Coalition sent a letter to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services addressing the barriers to treatment access faced by MassHealth Managed Care Organization members. Current policy requires most members to fill their prescription using specialty pharmacy programs, which can be difficult and impractical for those obtaining treatment, particularly for homeless individuals. The Coalition urges EOHHS amend this delivery model to permit patients to fill their HCV prescriptions at any pharmacy.

To read the letter in full, click the following link: EndHepCMA Coalition Letter to EOHHS-Specialty Pharmacies

May 2017:

Coalition Meeting 5/24 Notes:

The first full meeting of EndHepCMA occurred on 5/24 at Tufts University School of Medicine. We had 56 people in attendance: 22 voting members, 7 non-voting members, 11 advisory members, and 16 nonmembers. Recorded coverage of the event is available below:

EndHepCMA_Notes 5.24.17

MA DPH Epidemiological and Policy Updates

Committee Reports

Please contact rbaker@vpi.org for meeting notes and slides.

Coalition Meeting to take place Wednesday May 24 1-4PM

The meeting will take place at Tufts University School of Medicine, Sackler Auditorium at 145 Harrison Ave Boston, MA. Please contact Richard Baker at rbaker@vpi.org for more details.

NVHR: A Coordinated Federal Response to Viral Hepatitis

The EndHepCMA Coalition has signed on to the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable’s letter urging a coordinated federal response to Viral Hepatitis. The letter urges the adoption of strategies outlined in the National Academies Consensus Report, A National Strategy for the Elimination of Hepatitis B and C. The full text of the letter is available here.

April 2017:

May Coalition Meeting:

Wednesday May 24 from 1-4PM in the Sackler Auditorium of Tufts University School of Medicine located at 145 Harrison Ave Boston, MA. This meeting will feature a question and answer session with Kevin Cranston, Assistant Commissioner MA Department of Public Health and Director of the Bureau of Infectious Diseases and Laboratory Sciences as well as breakout sessions for our six committees.

You are encouraged to share this event widely, but please RSVP to rbaker@vpi.org. We look forward to seeing you there!

March 2017:

2017 Guide on Hepatitis C:

HCV Advocate, a leading Hep C blog, has released its 2017 guide to understanding Hepatitis C in 2017. You can find it here.

National Academies Elimination Report:

The National Academies for Science, Engineering, and Medicine has released its National Strategy for the Elimination of Hepatitis B and C. “The first report, Eliminating the Public Health Problem of Hepatitis B and C in the United States: Phase One Report, concluded that both hepatitis B and C could be eliminated as a public health problem in the United States, but that there are substantial obstacles to meeting this goal. This second report, A National Strategy for the Elimination of Hepatitis B and C: Phase Two Report, recommends specific actions to hasten the end of these diseases and lays out five areas—information, interventions, service delivery, financing, and research—to consider in the national plan.”

Highlights of the report can be found here.

EndHepCMA Steering Committee Meeting:

The Steering Committee of the EndHepCMA Coalition met for a second time on March 21. Highlights of the meeting are as follows: