Trending News Today: Cash Reimbursements Offered to Customers Impacted by Aetna's HIV Privacy Breach

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Aetna is offering cash reimbursements to customers affected by the accidental disclosure of their positive HIV status, according to The Hill. The emergency relief program offers reimbursement and payments to individuals who fell on financial hardship as a direct result of the privacy breach. Additionally, the health insurance giant will provide customers and their families with access to counseling services. The privacy breach occurred after letters containing sensitive information regarding HIV medications—as well as the names and addresses of some patients—could be seen through the large clear windows of the envelopes. According to The Hill, Aetna will solely determine who is eligible for the program. The insurer is not, however, admitting any wrongdoing and individuals who accept any benefits will be prohibited from participating in litigation regarding the disclosure.

An antitrust suit against Allergan PLC was filed by Shire PLC on Monday, alleging that Allergan’s contracts with Medicare Part D drug plans for its Restasis dry-eye drug blocked access to Shire’s rival drug, according to The Wall Street Journal. The lawsuit states that Shire offered steep discounts in bids for insurance coverage of their dry-eye drug Xiidra; however, the Part D plans refused due to “bundled discounts, exclusive dealing” and other tactics from Allergan, the WSJ reported. The complaint was filed in a Newark, NJ, federal court.

The FDA approval of Mavyret, a less expensive direct-acting antiviral treatment, is paving the way for both Medicaid and prisons to expand treatment for patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Mavyret is indicated to cure all 6 genotypes types of HCV in 8 weeks compared with 12 weeks with other antiviral treatments, according to Kaiser Health News. Furthermore, Mavyret is priced at $26,400, which is significantly less than other HCV drugs that range from approximately $55,000 to $95,000. Although state Medicaid programs cover a high proportion of individuals with HCV, the high price tag cause many to limit drug approval until the disease advanced. Others required individuals to be drug- and alcohol-free for 6 months or more before approving treatment. As advocates began to push for better access, Delaware’s Medicaid program began loosening its treatment criteria, and will begin approving enrollees regardless of disease severity in January, reported KHN. For individuals who are incarcerated, approximately 17% are infected with HCV compared with roughly 1% of the general population. Despite the high numbers, access to treatment is difficult for prisoners because prisons do not receive the price discounts that Medicaid programs have and their budgets are fixed, reported KHN.

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