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Federal Prison Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Kentucky Department of Corrections can deny a life-saving but costly hepatitis C medication to inmates, a federal appeals court recently ruled, according to the AP.

Why it matters: Hepatitis C is the leading cause of serious liver disease and Kentucky has the highest infection rate in the United States, per AP.

  • New treatments can cure 100% of patients but cost $13,000 to $32,000.
  • Due to the cost of the treatment, the Kentucky Department of Corrections has restricted use of the treatment to inmates with advanced liver scarring.

Driving the news: In a 2-1 ruling, a three-judge panel on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that denying treatment to most of Kentucky's 1,200 inmates with hepatitis C does not violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

  • The dissenting judge said the majority opinion "consigns thousands of prisoners with symptomatic, chronic HCV to years of additional suffering and irreversible liver scarring," the Louisville Courier Journal reports.
  • The majority decision upholds an earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove, who "found the department’s monitoring of inmates with hepatitis C constituted treatment, and the department’s treatment plan was adequate," according to AP.

Go deeper

Justice Department again urges courts to suspend Texas abortion law

People rally in support of abortion rights in New York City on Oct. 2. Photo: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

The Department of Justice asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Monday to suspend Texas' new law that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, or roughly six weeks — before many people know they are pregnant.

Why it matters: Medical providers in the state briefly resumed performing abortions last week after a federal judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional, though it was temporarily reinstated by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.