Alexandra Olgin

Starting today, the North Carolina Medicaid program will pay for medicines to treat hepatitis C for patients no matter how sick they are. In the past, the state wouldn’t pay for the expensive drugs unless the patient had stage two liver damage.  

UPDATED at 11:10 p.m. 10/04/2017

Two measures to extend federal funding for CHIP - the  Children’s Health Insurance Program - moved forward Wednesday. That’s encouraging news for the families of more than 300,000 kids in the Carolinas who get their health insurance through the program. Congress let funding for it expire last week.

In 2010, there were only 39 new cases of Hepatitis C reported in North Carolina. Last year there were 186 reported to the health department. Those numbers might not stand out in a state of 10 million people. But they are alarming because they represent a fast growth in a chronic illness that already afflicts more than 110,000 people in North Carolina. And there are probably more who don't know they have it. In response, groups are trying to prevent the spread by giving addicts clean needles.