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Passage of the Measure Would Provide Medicare Recipients With Same Access to Better, Less Costly, Life-Saving Care as People with Private Insurance; Would Stop Requiring Care to be Provided in Institutional Settings


CONTACT:  SYDNEY RUBIN (512) 442-1113

WASHINGTON, DC (September 17, 2008) – The National Home Infusion Association (NHIA) today thanked Senators Blanche Lincoln and Olympia Snowe for their leadership in introducing legislation that would provide older Americans on Medicare with the same access to less costly, life-saving home infusion therapy that is now available only to people with private insurance.

Senate Bill 3505, the “Medicare Home Infusion Therapy Coverage Act of 2008,” would expressly provide coverage for infusion-related services, supplies and equipment under Medicare Part B while leaving coverage of the drugs used in infusions covered as they currently are under Medicare Part D. The bill closes a gap in coverage that nearly everyone – patients, physicians, caregivers, infusion pharmacists, nurses and even CMS -- agrees needs to be fixed.

Infusion therapy involves the administration of medication through a needle or catheter, and is prescribed for many serious diseases when only infusible drugs are appropriate treatment. Diseases commonly requiring infusion therapy include infections unresponsive to oral antibiotics, cancer and cancer-related pain, dehydration, gastrointestinal diseases or disorders that prevent normal functioning of the gastrointestinal system, congestive heart failure, Crohn's Disease, hemophilia, immune deficiencies, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.

“Private insurers have been covering home infusion therapy for decades because they recognize that being treated at home is safer, more convenient, better for patients and is less costly,” said Russ Bodoff, NHIA’s Executive Director. “It is good for patients and it is good medical practice.”

But until now, Medicare has tended to cover the drugs and biologics used in infusions but not the medical services, supplies or equipment needed to deliver the home therapy. As a result, Medicare patients have had to enter a hospital or nursing home for the infusion treatment to be covered by their Medicare insurance.

“Home infusion therapy is covered by private insurers because they see the tremendous value, and Medicare beneficiaries deserve no less,” said Senator Lincoln (D-Arkansas). “I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this legislation, which would lower costs and improve the quality of life for patients who want to have access to these therapies in their homes. In fact, this is really the direction we need to take throughout the American healthcare system. We need a system that is efficient, geared toward the real needs of individual patients and cost effective.”

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) noted that the legislation would simultaneously reduce costs to Medicare while improving care for older Americans. “Unnecessary institutional treatment simply makes no sense when patients can be treated in the comfort of their home – and at lower cost to Medicare,” she said.

John Magnuson, NHIA Vice President of Legislative Affairs, noted that “Home infusion therapy offers many patients the freedom to be treated where they work and live. Congress needs to act now so that older people today and the large number of Baby Boomers tomorrow can receive care at home, and do not need to face the risks and discomforts of institutional care.”

About NHIA – The National Home Infusion Association, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is a trade association that represents and advances the interests of organizations that provide infusion and specialized pharmacy products and services to the entire spectrum of home-based patients.  For more information, call Russ Bodoff at 703-549-3740 or visit the association at www.nhia.org