STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Here's an update on a story we brought you on Monday. Reporter Richard Knox told us about a patient could not get the lifesaving drugs he needed to treat hepatitis C. That's because Medicare would not pay the $150,000 cost. After our report, Medicare officials told us they were looking into the case. And now the agency has shifted its policy. WellCare, which is a private insurer that contracts with Medicare, has told Walter Bianco that it will pay the cost after all.
In a statement to NPR News, Medicare officials indicate the new policy will apply broadly to hepatitis C patients whose doctors prescribe the use of two very expensive drugs known to cure hepatitis C. The coverage will cost a lot. A Medicare official told a Chamber of Commerce gathering last week that the agency hopes to know how much it may cost by the end of the year.
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