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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. MATSUI. I'd like to thank my colleague for yielding.

I also want to say, Madam Speaker, thank you for your many wonderful years of service and our friendship. We'll miss you in this Chamber, and we wish you well.

Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 1845, the Medicare IVIG Access Act. I'd like to thank Congressman Brady for his hard work and his leadership on this legislation, as well as Congressman Kind for the leadership on the SMART Act provisions of this important legislation.

Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases or, as we call it, PIDDs, is a group of diseases that cause a person's immune system to be unable to function properly. Unlike most of us who are able to fight common infectious diseases, patients with untreated PIDD can become seriously ill from a simple cold virus or even a cut on their arm.

Patients with PIDD are generally treated with intravenous immunoglobulin, or IVIG, a complex drug that provides them a temporary immune system. Every 3-4 weeks, patients receive an IV treatment for about 2-4 hours per treatment. To maintain a healthy immune system, they must have this treatment for the rest of their lives.

People with commercial insurance typically receive care in any of three settings: hospital outpatient departments; a physician's office; or at home, administered by a nurse. For many patients, receiving their care at home is optimal, as it greatly reduces the risk of infection.

However, for Medicare beneficiaries with PIDD, the program pays for home infusion of IVIG but does not cover nursing services and supplies. As you can imagine, a 74-year-old Medicare recipient on a fixed income is not capable of paying the several hundred dollars a month necessary for the nurse to provide IVIG infusions in their homes. As a result, many patients are forced to receive their treatment in a hospital setting, oftentimes increasing the likelihood of infection, pneumonia, and an expensive stay in a hospital billed to Medicare.

Madam Speaker, this does not make sense for the patient or for Medicare, and that's why Congressman Brady and I introduced the Medicare IVIG Access Act.

Madam Speaker, this legislation is budget-neutral and fully paid for. H.R. 1845 creates a 3-year demonstration project capped at 4,000 patients, in which the nursing services and supplies associated with home infusion of IVIG will be covered for Medicare beneficiaries with PIDD.

I believe that this project will mirror the results of studies of patients with commercial insurance that found increased compliance, fewer infections and overall savings for patients infused at home versus the hospital.

Madam Speaker, patients with rare genetic diseases should not see their access to care diminish when they become eligible for Medicare. H.R. 1845 fixes the gap in Medicare coverage that unfairly restricts patients' access to IVIG and disrupts their continuity of care.

I strongly encourage my colleagues to vote for this critically important legislation.

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