South Bend Tribune (04.10.13)
On April 9, Indiana’s St. Joseph County Council approved a funding request asking for an additional $8,000 for multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB treatment for a patient who recently moved into the county. County Health Department Administrator Nick Molchan requested the funding, as state law requires county health departments to provide funding for communicable disease treatments such as MDR TB. Molchan explained, “When a person has [TB], there are medications they have to take. In normal cases, those medicines are able to take care of it.” Of this TB strain, Molchan stated, “There’s a next stage, this stage, where some strains of TB are resistant to the medicines.”
American Lung Association statistics show that the United States reported 98 cases of MDR TB in 2011 and 89 cases in 2010. One of MDR TB’s causes is the inadequate treatment of normal TB; hence, some of the funding will go to observing the patient taking the medication. At an earlier council meeting, Molchan told the group that a previous county’s treatment for the patient had cost that county more than $80,000, which included hospitalization. When the patient relocated, that county contacted the St. Joseph County Health Department.
Molchan stated that in his 26-year health career, this was the first time he had dealt with this type of situation. The impoverished patient has been on Medicaid frequently; fortunately, the patient is no longer contagious, which will greatly reduce St. Joseph County’s costs. Molchan contacted other counties about how best to handle the patient’s funding and learned that they, too, had faced similar circumstances and had asked for and received additional appropriations.