/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Patients on Medicare and Senators Blanche L. Lincoln (D-AR) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY-17) today urged Congress to fix a flaw in the Medicare program which forces patients to undergo treatments in institutional settings when it is often unnecessary. The immediate legislative actions that can be taken to achieve Medicare savings while providing high-quality, life-saving home infusion therapy to older and disabled Americans, was the focus of an educational forum hosted by the National Home Infusion Association (NHIA).
The Medicare Home Infusion Therapy Coverage Act of 2009 was introduced earlier this year to close a gap that currently exists in coverage where the medicines used in infusions to treat serious diseases are covered, but not the medical services, supplies and equipment needed to deliver the home therapy.
"Many Arkansans on Medicare who need home infusion therapy are simply unable to afford it. As a result, they often have to enter a hospital or nursing home for the infusion treatment to be fully covered by Medicare. Not only is this an extreme hardship for the patient, it actually results in a higher cost to Medicare. This legislation would provide for full Medicare coverage of home infusion therapy, ultimately lowering costs and improving patient outcomes," said Senator Lincoln.
"Medicare coverage of home infusion therapy is a prime example of immediate action we can take to deliver high-quality patient care at a lesser cost," said Senator Isakson. "I witnessed firsthand the world of difference treatment at home makes to patients and their caregivers when my son needed to be treated with intravenous medicines a few years ago. I believe he was able to heal faster because he underwent treatment at home. Everyone should be afforded this opportunity."
"Medicare is the only major payor that does not reimburse for home infusion therapy. We cannot continue to support a healthcare system of 'have' and 'have nots'. All patients, including older and disabled Americans needing intravenous medications, should be allowed to undergo treatment in the comfort of their own homes," said Representative Engel.
Infusion therapy involves the administration of medication through a needle or catheter, and is prescribed for infections unresponsive to oral antibiotics and serious diseases including cancer, congestive heart failure, and rheumatoid arthritis, among others.
Patients at the forum shared personal stories of the health and financial challenges they have experienced due to the lack of Medicare coverage, and advocated for enactment of new legislation that will eliminate unnecessary hospital stays when physicians and patients agree that treatment at home is preferable.
"Our country can no longer afford unnecessary healthcare expenses when high-quality, low-cost options are available and preferred by physicians and patients alike," said Russell Bodoff, President, NHIA.
The "Medicare Home Infusion Therapy Coverage Act of 2009" introduced in the Senate (S.254) and in the House (H.R. 574) is sponsored by Senators Blanche L. Lincoln (D-AR), Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Representatives Eliot L. Engel (D-NY-17), Timothy F. Murphy (R-PA-18), Tammy Baldwin, (D-WI), and Kay Granger (R-TX).
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