Massachusetts Medicaid Board Sides with HIV Patient in Transplant Case
November 15, 2001
A state board in Massachusetts ruled Wednesday that an HIV-positive man with end-stage liver disease should be covered by Medicaid for a potentially life-saving liver transplant. The unidentified man is 41 years old and lives in Boston. HIV drugs have kept him from developing AIDS, but he also has hepatitis C and is expected to die of liver failure within months without a transplant. In what activists called a landmark decision, the Division of Medical Assistance Board of Appeals said the procedure was "medically necessary" and not experimental. The board queried experts in the field on the efficacy of liver transplants for patients with HIV and concluded that recent advances in AIDS treatment indicated "the treatment will be effective in light of his specific clinical picture."
The state Division of Medical Assistance insisted that the decision would not apply to all cases, only to other Massachusetts Medicaid recipients in similar circumstances. "It's not a blanket approval that all people with HIV would be automatic candidates for a transplant," said spokesperson Richard McGreal. "Just because this person fits the medical necessity definition, and is approved for a liver transplant, the next person who comes along may be totally different." Some scientists believe that HIV reduces the chance of survival for transplant patients. "Certainly, for all Medicaid recipients, HIV status alone can no longer be a basis to refuse liver transplantation," said attorney Bennett Klein of Gays and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. "This decision really breaks new ground."
11.15.01; Justin Pope
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.