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Stabenow, Kerry, Alexander Legislation Will Improve Access to Life-Saving Intravenous Treatment

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Reform Would Help Patients Avoid Medicare Roadblocks

Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) introduced "The Medicare IVIG Access Act" today, which will protect patients who suffer from Primary Immunodeficiency Disease (PIDD). The bill will ensure that PIDD patients, who suffer from debilitating and sometimes fatal illnesses, receive quick access to life-saving treatments, spend less time in the hospital and lead healthier, more productive lives.

Currently, Medicare beneficiaries needing intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatments are experiencing access problems - an unintended result of the way Medicare determines the payment for IVIG. Many doctors cannot purchase the products at Medicare reimbursed rates, and as a result, patients are experiencing delays in receiving this life saving treatment.

The bill would fix these current problems and seek to improve the quality of life for PIDD patients, by improving reimbursement procedures for patients who are in need of IVIG treatments. It will also allow for home treatments and provide coverage for related items and services currently excluded from home treatments.

"Thousands of Medicare patients suffer from PIDD and require regular antibody infusion treatment to stay healthy," said Stabenow. "For too long, patients suffering from this condition have had to make do without regular treatments at home. Meanwhile, doctors and hospitals are struggling to afford this vital treatment. This legislation will help expand access for these patients, so they can receive the complete care in the best setting."

"Due to an error in the Medicare reimbursement math, thousands of people are battling bureaucracy and sky high prices everyday, just to get the treatment they need to stay alive. That's wrong. Our bill will fix this error so patients can stop worrying about navigating red tape and start getting the treatment they need," said Kerry.

"This bill is a step in the right direction to make sure that Medicare patients with primary immunodeficiency diseases have access to the treatment they need," said Alexander. "Providing adequate access to quality health care for all Americans is an issue that should bring both parties together to find a solution, and I'm glad to work with Senators Kerry and Stabenow to make sure Medicare recipients are getting the treatment they need."

Nearly 70% of PIDD patients use IVIG to maintain their health and quality of life. PIDD are disorders in which part of the body's immune system is missing or does not function properly. These diseases are caused by intrinsic or generic flaws in the immune system and not by outside factors.

Stabenow and Kerry, senior members of the Finance Committee, and Alexander, a senior member of the HELP Committee, will advocate for inclusion of the bill in the Senate's expected Medicare legislation this year.

The following patient and physician groups support Kerry's Medicare IVIG Access Act:
The Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF)
GBS/CIDP Foundation International
Jeffery Modell Foundation (JMF)
Platelet Disorder Support Association (PDSA)
National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF)
Clinical Immunology Society (CIS)

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