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By Mr. KERRY (for himself, Mr. Alexander, and Mr. Wyden):
S. 960. A bill to provide for a study on issues relating to access to intravenous immune globulin (IVG) for Medicare beneficiaries in all care settings and a demonstration project to examine the benefits of providing coverage and payment for items and services necessary to administer IVG in the home; to the Committee on Finance.
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, today along with Senator Alexander I am introducing the Medicare IVIG Access Act to help patients with primary immunodeficiency diseases, PIDD, who currently face a number of health challenges. Today, Medicare beneficiaries with PIDD already have a Part B benefit for home-based intravenous immune globulin, IVIG, treatment. Unfortunately a gap in coverage exists so no payments are available for the items and services necessary to administer the treatment.
Treatment in the home is more cost effective and also protects the patient from the risk of exposure to additional illnesses in other health care settings. This is of particular concern to PIDD patients, since they already have weakened immune systems. A 2007 report from the Department of Health and Human Services, HHS, Office of Inspector General and the HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation found that problems with payment exist, namely the absence of coverage for required items and services associated with IVIG home infusion.
That is why I have worked with my colleague Senator Alexander to introduce the Medicare IVIG Access Act to create a 3-year demonstration project to provide for and evaluate the benefits of providing a payment for items and services necessary to administer IVIG in the home. The bill includes a study to explore issues surrounding IVIG treatment, including the impact of the demonstration project on access to care, and an analysis of the appropriateness of new payment methodology for IVIG treatment in all settings.
This legislation is supported by a number of organizations including the Immune Deficiency Foundation and the Clinical Immunology Society. I ask all of my colleagues to support this important legislation.
By Mr. KERRY (for himself, Mrs. MURRAY, and Mr. BEGICH):
S. 961. A bill to create the income security conditions and family supports needed to ensure permanency for the Nation's unaccompanied youth, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Finance.
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, today I am introducing the Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act to improve training, educational opportunities, and permanency planning for older foster youth and reduce homelessness among our young people.
This year approximately 3.5 million people, including 1.5 million children in the United States will experience homelessness at some point. That is one out of every 50 kids. For children who were in the foster system the chances of becoming homeless are even greater. Every year approximately 30,000 children age out of the foster care system--many with no family and nowhere to go. These children were placed in the foster system at absolutely no fault of their own and too often they leave the system without a place to call home.
We have a responsibility to take care of our young people and make sure families have the resources they need to be able to keep a roof over their heads. I developed this legislation after hearing troubling stories from teenagers in Massachusetts. For example, I heard from one 15-year-old who has been in multiple foster care placements and is expected to eventually age out of the system. He told me ``..... I feel the age 18 is too young, some of us don't always have somewhere to go ..... if this bill gets passed it will greatly help a lot of people in so many different ways ..... I thank you for giving us the opportunity to help us better ourselves and letting us know that we are heard in this world and someone cares deeply and truly about us.'' That is why I am introducing the Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act. This legislation will help ensure that regardless of where in the country a foster child lives, they will not face the prospect of becoming a homeless teenager by allowing them to remain in care until their 21st birthday and improving permanency planning.
It provides support for States to work together to decrease barriers that prohibit cooperation across State lines for placing foster children in loving homes outside their state of residence. It provides support for programs that improve family relationships and reduce homelessness among youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. This legislation ensures that children in foster care receive Social Security benefits they qualify for due to the death of a parent or a disability.
The bill makes significant improvements to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, TANF, program such as enhancing efforts to connect families with education, training and housing resources. It also increases the time frame for young parents to qualify for TANF benefits if they are in an education or training program. Finally, it provides more flexibility for states to work with young families to become compliant with TANF requirements.
This legislation is supported by over 40 organizations, including the American Bar Association, the National Coalition for the Homeless, National Network for Youth, and Voice for Adoption. I thank my colleagues Senator MURRAY and Senator BEGICH for their support and co-sponsorship of this bill. It is my hope that we can move forward in a bipartisan manner. I ask all of my colleagues to support this important legislation.
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