Medi-Cal May Pay to Treat Sexual Partners of Beneficiaries Infected with Chlamydia
Medi-Cal officials have proposed paying for chlamydia medications for the sexual partners of beneficiaries with the disease, following the enactment last year of a state law that allows doctors to prescribe medication for the sexual partners of patients diagnosed with chlamydia without an examination of the partners, the Los Angeles Times reports. Public health officials say California's approach to battling chlamydia is necessary to "squelch a dramatic rise" in the disease and to address the "inadequa[cy]" of previous public health strategies -- the number of reported cases of chlamydia has increased nearly 67% over the past five years. A primary goal of California's new approach to chlamydia treatment, which has "widespread" support among the state's medical community, is preventing the reinfection of women, who can experience ectopic pregnancy, scarring and possible sterility related to the infection. A woman has a 15% to 30% chance of becoming reinfected with chlamydia within six months if only she, and not her sexual partner, is treated for the infection, according to the Times. "If you don't take care of the partner, then you haven't taken care of your patient," Dr. Gail Bolan, chief of the sexually transmitted disease control branch of the Department of Health Services, said. Because Medi-Cal is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, the proposal must be approved by HHS. The proposal, currently under review, is the first of its kind in the nation and, if approved, would represent the first time Medi-Cal was used to pay for treatment for non-beneficiaries. If the federal government denies approval of Medi-Cal's proposal, California will attempt to seek funding elsewhere (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 2/19).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.