Medicare IVIG Access and Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Frank Pallone, Jr.
Date: Dec. 19, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PALLONE. I want to thank the gentleman from Wisconsin.

Madam Speaker, I rise to lend my support to H.R. 1845, as amended. This bill combines two pieces of legislation: H.R. 1845, which provides a demonstration for the coverage of home infusion of intravenous immune globulin, or IVIG, and H.R. 1063, which makes improvements to the Medicare Secondary Payer process, or MSP. However, I would like to note my concerns about the process.

Our committee acted on H.R. 1063, and I commend the chairman for his efforts to ensure it was a bipartisan product, but we did not act on the IVIG legislation, which is every bit as important to our Members as the MSP. So it's my hope that in the future we can avoid situations like this.

The Medicare Secondary Payer provisions of this bill will reduce the burdens of the secondary payer process for beneficiaries and other stakeholders. Most importantly, the legislation will do so in a way that ensures that we're also protecting taxpayer dollars and the Medicare trust fund. I do worry, however, that the MSP bill does not include administrative funding for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, to implement these new changes.

One of the primary complaints I hear about MSP is that stakeholders are currently frustrated because the process does not move fast enough. But here we are, legislating new responsibilities on top of an already slow process--with no funding. This will simply burden the agency and make it more difficult to get to resolution on secondary payer cases in a timely fashion. So I hope that at some future date we can provide a reasonable sum to the agency to allow them to be better equipped to speed this process along.

One additional point on MSP: the new process we've established for resolving disputes of claims posted on the Web portal is not intended to supplant the ordinary appeals process for MSP activities. I believe that is clear in the language, but I want to note that there should be no ambiguity. This bill does not supplant existing appeals rights.

In addition to MSP changes, this bill also provides for a 3-year demonstration related to IVIG. IVIG is a blood-derived treatment that helps strengthen the immune systems of immune-deficient patients and prevents paralysis in some autoimmune diseases and neuropathies. Currently, Medicare beneficiaries may receive home infusion of IVIG as a part B benefit; however, the equipment, nursing services, and supplies necessary for the home infusion are not reimbursed.

Congresswoman Matsui has been a clear leader on this issue and it's to her credit that it's included in this package today. She's worked so tirelessly on this IVIG issue, and I'm hopeful that this demonstration project she has championed will both save money for the Medicare program and improve access to needed services for this vulnerable population. I thank her for her leadership on behalf of these patients.

I also want to thank Chairman Upton for working on these two issues with us, and I look forward to the next Congress, where, hopefully, we'll find additional areas of common ground to work on.

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