Gov. Inslee announces plan to combat Hepatitis C in Washington

VIDEO: Gov. Inslee announces new steps to battle Hep C virus

SEATTLE — Governor Jay Inslee has announced a new plan to combat Hepatitis C in Washington.

The governor says the opioid crisis has made the health problem significantly worse, and in an attempt to stem the tide of new infections, he says a directive will challenge it.

It's focused on two steps: Getting the word out, and then buying the drugs to cure it.

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Inslee was joined by the state's top Hepatitis C doctors Friday, as well as victim advocacy groups, to announce

Directive 1813, in which state and local agencies will put a plan together to raise awareness about Hepatitis C by July 2019.

The next step is to use the state's healthcare authority to jointly purchase medication to make it as affordable as possible.

Hepatitis C is a bloodborne illness that the state estimates 65,000 people are living with, and the governor said it's an issue worth spending money on.

“We're going to spend the right amount, and the right amount is something that keeps people off the liver transplant list -- it is enormously expensive to the state of Washington. There is no question this is going to be an economic benefit to the state of Washington,” said Inslee.

The virus can cause liver and kidney failure, and with the opioid crisis only worsening, Inslee says it's worth it to stem the tide now.