CMS Should Have Approved Waiver to Treat Partners of Medi-Cal Beneficiaries with Chlamydia, Bee Says
The Bush administration made "something that should be easy into something difficult" when CMS this week rejected a waiver request that would have allowed the state to cover the cost of antibiotic treatment for the sexual partners of Medi-Cal beneficiaries infected with chlamydia, regardless of whether the partners qualify for Medi-Cal, according to a Sacramento Bee editorial (Sacramento Bee, 3/14). Because Medi-Cal is jointly funded by the state and federal government, California needed federal approval before moving ahead with the proposed plan, which sought in particular to reduce the chlamydia reinfection rate among female beneficiaries (California Healthline, 3/12). The Bee calls CMS' decision to reject the waiver request a "case of the fine print taking priority over the big picture." According to the Bee, the "solution is obvious: Treat the men as well as the women" infected with chlamydia. The editorial states that from a "public health standpoint, ... treating the boy is part of treating the girl. The goal is not only to treat this round of chlamydia, but to prevent it from happening again." The editorial points out that as many as one in three women who contract chlamydia and receive treatment "end up getting reinfected," which places them at risk for pelvic disease or infertility. In addition, the Bee estimates that from a "purely financial standpoint," treating the male partners of women infected with chlamydia would "save Medicaid some money," pointing out that "the health problems of a woman with repeat infections can be a lot more costly than a single round of antibiotics." The editorial concludes, "This isn't a question about who is eligible for Medicaid, but how to help the woman who definitely is, and who needs help to stay healthy" (Sacramento Bee, 3/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.