Having seen the Delaware D O C ignore the terms of a similar settlement, and having read about other states doing the same* [I tell you again, unless you really know what goes on in our prisons it is hard to believe how out of control they are! 🙁 ], I say let us wait and see where this is two years from now. Will the plaintiffs be in court again to force Colorado to honor the settlement, as has happened too many times in similar cases in America? That won’t surprise me.
States are required by law three different ways to provide “reasonable medical care” to inmates [state statutes, the U S Constitution (Supreme Court cases) and federal law), yet they routinely fail to do so. Hep C has been an epidemic in our prisons for years, and is spread largely by all of the illicit tattooing going on – unsterile tools.
Excerpts from the Article:
The Colorado Department of Corrections will spend $41 million over two years to provide life-saving drugs to 2,200 prisoners who’ve been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C. The move was approved today, September 12, by the Colorado State Claims board, settling a class-action lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Colorado and Fox Rothschild attorneys, which accused the state of delaying or denying treatment for prisoners battling the potentially deadly virus because of the high cost of the medications involved.
The state is spending $20.5 million in this year’s budget, and the same amount next year, to address a backlog of prisoners who’ve been waiting in line for a new generation of wonder drugs, known as direct-acting antivirals, that virtually eliminate the virus in more than 90 percent of the patients treated. That’s an exponential increase over the $2.8 million the CDOC spent to treat just fifty prisoners for hep C in the previous two years.
As first reported in Westword’s 2016 feature “The Deadliest Killer in Colorado’s Prisons is a Curable Virus,” prison administrators had set up stringent requirements for treatment that amounted to a multi-year obstacle course for inmates suffering from the virus. Partly because of the stigma associated with the bloodborne virus, which is primarily acquired through sharing needles, and partly because of its pervasiveness behind bars (it’s estimated that 17 percent of the national prison population is affected), officials required prisoners to go through months of drug and alcohol classes and have particularly deteriorated livers before they could begin treatment. The severe rationing was also spurred by the fact that the new wonder drugs, when they first debuted, cost as much as $95,000 for a twelve-week regimen.
A Westword review of 823 deaths within the DOC over fifteen years found that 161 of those deaths, nearly one in five of them, were caused by end-stage liver disease and related illnesses. That’s roughly twice the number of suicides behind bars during that same period, three times the number of deaths attributed to drug and alcohol use, and four times the number of homicides. The data provided doesn’t specify how many of the liver-related deaths were the direct result of hep C complications, but the DOC has determined that the virus was a contributing factor in at least eighteen deaths between 2014 and 2016.