Just because they sit on a court of appeals doesn’t mean they have souls. It should surprise nobody that respect for the Courts is at an all time low, with idiots like these on the Bench!
Excerpts from the Article:
A federal appeals court has ruled the Kentucky Department of Corrections can deny a life-saving medication for inmates with hepatitis C because it is expensive — a decision a dissenting judge says will condemn hundreds of prisoners to long-term organ damage and suffering.
In a 2-1 ruling, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel said Tuesday the department can deny the treatment, which cures nearly 100% of patients but costs $13,000 to $32,000.
The majority found that denying it to most of Kentucky’s 1,200 inmates with hepatitis C does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
But in a sharply worded dissent, Judge Jane Stranch of Nashville said by “flouting the recognized standard of care,” the Corrections Department “consigns thousands of prisoners with symptomatic, chronic HCV to years of additional suffering and irreversible liver scarring.”
She said by withholding medical treatment until the damage caused by an inmate’s chronic hepatitis C infection has progressed too far to be reversible, Kentucky’s rationing plan “shocks the conscience” and is fundamentally unfair.
Louisville attorney Greg Belzley, who represents prisoners in a class-action lawsuit, called the decision “horrendous” and said they would ask for a rehearing or petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
“Basically the majority … ruled that Kentucky prison officials don’t have to do anything to treat an inmate’s infection except sit around and watch it get worse,” he said in an email.
Lisa Lamb, a spokeswoman for the Corrections Department, said its policy aligns with the practices of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, and two courts have found the Kentucky department is not violating the constitutional rights of prisoners.
Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplantation and serious liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is a blood-borne disease that can be caused by sharing contaminated needles, using unsterilized tattoo equipment and engaging in risky sexual behavior.
An estimated 71 million people are affected worldwide. Kentucky has the highest infection rate in the United States.
She also said the treatment saves money in the long run because it reduces the costs of caring for illnesses caused by hepatitis C, including liver disease, lymphoma and diabetes.
Dr. Jens Rosenau, acting director of hepatology at UK HealthCare, said treatment is potentially beneficial for almost any infected individual and recommended by liver and infectious disease society guidelines.
In her dissent, Stranch said “there is ample evidence that defendants were well aware of the long-term harm caused by delaying treatment and the universal medical recommendation that all individuals with chronic HCV should be prescribed DAAs,” Stranch wrote.
“Yet according to defendants themselves, they chose not to administer DAAs to all inmates because of the cost of the drugs, a decision that exposed inmates to ongoing suffering and long-term organ damage.”
Belzley said in an email the department doesn’t treat any infected inmates until their liver has already become cirrhotic, and while hepatitis C is curable, cirrhosis is not.
He said as of August 2019, the most recently available figures, the department has identified 1,670 prisoners as HCV-positive. Only 159 had received any treatment.
The majority held that “an inmate’s disagreement with the testing and treatment he has received” does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
Senior Judge Alice Batchelder and Judge Richard Allen Griffin upheld a decision by U.S. District Judge Gregory F. VanTatenhove of Lexington, who found the department’s monitoring of inmates with hepatitis C constituted “treatment” and the department’s treatment plan was adequate.
Belzley said what was particularly irritating about the majority decision was the plaintiffs presented “undisputed evidence” it would cost taxpayers less to treat infected inmates in prison than to wait until they are released. Meanwhile, they would infect others before finally receiving treatment.
“This is a decision that makes no sense in logic, under the law, or for Kentucky taxpayers,” he said.
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Belzley said lawyers have made “enormous progress in securing effective treatment for the obviously serious medical needs of inmates in Kentucky jails and prisons, which is a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
“This is a huge, and alarming, step back,” he said. “Unless reversed, this decision will be used to justify jail and prison officials’ deliberate indifference to the serious medical conditions of the Kentuckians in their care and custody.”