WASHINGTON, June 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Jeffrey Levi, Ph.D., Executive Director of Trust for America's Health (TFAH) testified before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform today at a hearing entitled, "Viral Hepatitis: The Secret Epidemic." Levi called for significantly increased emphasis on prevention, identification, research, and treatment of this largely silent disease. Levi held that early screening and treatment could save thousands of lives and needless expense to our healthcare system.
An excerpt from Levi's testimony is below:
"Hepatitis is a ticking time bomb. Over five million people in the U.S. are infected with hepatitis B or C, yet, an estimated 65-75 percent are not aware of their status, putting them at risk for developing chronic hepatitis, liver cancer, cirrhosis, or late-stage liver disease. With promising new treatments on the horizon that could dramatically improve our chances for effectively treating these individuals, we have a moral obligation to make sure that all who can benefit know their status and have access to care.
"However, this is more than a moral argument. It is also a practical financial issue for our reforming health care system. If we continue down the present course of late identification of people with viral hepatitis, the costs to the health care system will continue to grow. If we undertake aggressive actions we could dramatically change that equation for the better.
"We need much better situational awareness and surveillance. We do not have sufficient data regarding the scope of the problem and who is affected. We also must assure that the reformed health care system provides quality prevention and care for hepatitis – from the screening and preventive services mandated for all plans to HHS putting in place the appropriate policies that guarantee quality care for people with hepatitis.
"We are at a critical junction in our nation's fight against hepatitis. New treatments offer great promise; a reforming health care system will improve coverage and access; and, in the case of hepatitis B, we have a vaccine that could effectively eliminate it. The question remains whether as a nation we will seize this moment to prevent and reduce needless suffering for millions of Americans and their families."
Trust for America's Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.
SOURCE Trust for America's Health