Right now, autoimmune patients who get biologic medications as IV infusions are worried about potential coronavirus exposure while they receive these critical medications that help prevent disease flares and long-term damage from systemic inflammation.
The U.S. Senate is voting now on legislation that could allow Medicare patients to get such infusions at home instead of needing to go to an outpatient clinic or hospital to receive them.
The Global Healthy Living Foundation is urging senators to support this legislation. Here is the letter we wrote advocating for it.
Please Tweet, call, or email your Senator to show support for this legislation.
Re: Immediate Need For Medicare Coverage Of All Part B Drugs and Related Administration Through The Home Health and Infusion Benefit Provision
The Global Healthy Living Foundation (GHLF) asks that you and your Senate colleagues act to assure that autoimmune patients covered by Medicare Part B are able to access their infusion treatments at home during the COVID-19 emergency.
GHLF is a 20-year-old 501(c)(3) patient organization reaching millions of chronically ill patients and their caregivers across the country through social media, community events and our online support and education. GHLF works to improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic disease by making sure their voices are heard and advocating for improved access to care at the community level. Our patients suffer from chronic conditions including arthritis, psoriasis, gastrointestinal disease, cardiovascular disease and migraine.
We have recently launched a COVID-19 Patient Support Program to assist patients and caregivers during this unprecedented time. Nearly 1 million people have visited our www.creakyjoints.org website and our Twitter chats have resulted in 18 million impressions.
It is critical – and literally a manner of saving lives – that autoimmune patients covered by Medicare Part B are able to access their infusion treatments at home. Typically, these medicines are administered in hospitals, infusion centers, and doctors’ offices. But now, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, these patients are at risk because they are immunocompromised to begin with so going to a hospital for their infusion puts them at high risk. In addition, patients are unable to access their critical medications because locations are either closed, not accepting non-COVID-19 patients, or they are being told to shelter in place.
Patients are terrified to leave their home for scheduled infusion injections and infusions for fear of contracting COVID-19, heeding the warnings of government and public health officials that they avoid groups of people and those suffering symptoms as they themselves are a high risk of infection.
Patients are experiencing disruptions of their critical infused medications, as well as basic, yet essential medicines and treatment, at a cost to their immediate and long-term health and well-being. For Medicare patients, it is vital that they are able to receive their medications at home during this crisis through appropriate providers and clinical staff with the expertise to administer these drugs safely to prevent the transfer of COVID-19 infection to patients and to the population at large.
While Medicare has a home health benefit and home infusion benefit, drug administration services are covered for only a limited set of Part B drugs under these benefits. Likewise, Part B drug payment is only available for a limited set of drugs in the home setting. It is imperative that Medicare coverage of all Part B drugs and their related administration costs be made temporarily available in the home setting to allow beneficiaries to have access to infused drugs, as well as the small percentage of patients who need the home health benefits for injectable drugs.
We call on Congress to provide improved access to needed treatments to avoid additional serious illness and unnecessary loss of life due to this crisis, by expanding the Medicare Home Infusion benefit to allow patients to remain in their homes and receive necessary medications while the emergency declaration is in effect.
GHLF concurs with other patient and provider advocates that such coverage would be temporary, addressing critical access concerns during this time of national crisis. It is essential that any legislation intended to address COVID-19 related health care priorities provide temporary coverage of Part B drugs and biologicals furnished in the home.
Thank you for considering our comments.
Director of Policy and General Counsel
Global Healthy Living Foundation
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