Senator ‘appalled’ by hospitals’ objection to providing Hep C test

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Senator ‘appalled’ by hospitals’ objection to providing Hep C test

All baby boomers should be screened for hepatitis C, say federal guidelines, yet at least one state might be putting more roadblocks in the path of testing.

The chairman of the state Senate health committee slammed lobbyists representing hospitals and doctors Monday for opposing a bill that would require them to screen their baby-boomer patients, those born between 1945 and 1965, for Hepatitis C, saying that their objections are “absurd” and they “ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee approved the legislation, but not before Chairman Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) chastised the New Jersey Hospital Association and Medical Society of New Jersey for their resistance.

The New Jersey Hospital Association said testing is important, but it should be handled in a doctor’s office, according to written testimony submitted to the committee. Testing in the emergency room or an inpatient unit is more expensive and could prolong the visit, the testimony said.

The Medical Society of New Jersey objected to the bill because it “opposes unfunded mandates,” said Mishael Azam, the physician organization’s chief operating officer and lobbyist, said after the hearing.

The testing is covered by Medicare, Vitale noted. Follow up testing and treatment would be handled by the patient’s doctor, he said.

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