WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan, vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and chairman of the Health Subcommittee, today introduced the Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act with Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Dianna Harshbarger (R-Tenn.) and Terri Sewell (D-Ala.). This bipartisan bill would ensure patients with serious infections, heart failure, immune diseases, cancer and other conditions receive the intravenous (IV) medications they need while at home. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.).
When given the option, patients would overwhelmingly prefer to receive their infused drugs at home where they are most comfortable and can resume their personal and professional lives. In fact, research shows that up to 95 percent of patients would prefer receiving their infusions at home.
“The coronavirus pandemic taught us that home health services are invaluable for seniors in my district and across the country,” said Rep. Buchanan. “The aptly-named Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act will ensure that Medicare recipients can continue to receive life-saving drugs in a safe and effective way from the comfort and convenience of their own home.”
Rep. Dingell said, “We know that the majority of people would prefer to receive care in the home when possible, and over the last few years, we have seen the effective expansion of many home care services, which can result in significant savings for patients and providers. The legislation’s commonsense reforms will expand access to home infusion services for Medicare beneficiaries, saving the Medicare program millions of dollars, cutting patient costs, and ensuring people receive safe and adequate care in the comfort of their own home. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this bipartisan legislation forward so we can effectively care for people and save money by doing so in a home setting.”
Sen. Warner said, “We have seen for years that patients are better off when they can receive quality care from the comfort of their own homes. This legislation would ensure that millions of Americans who suffer from life threatening conditions such as immune diseases, cancer, serious infections, and heart failure can receive the care they need without having to make frequent, sometimes costly trips to the hospital.”
Sen. Scott said, “High-risk patients who are more susceptible to contracting disease shouldn’t have to visit a hospital and further risk their health to receive life-saving treatment,” said Sen. Scott. “This commonsense legislation ensures that millions of Americans have the option to receive the care they need in the comfort and safety of their own homes.”
Despite Congress’ intent, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) improperly implemented the benefit for Medicare Part B home infusion drugs by requiring a nurse to be physically present in the patient’s home in order for providers to be reimbursed. As a practical matter, the current home infusion therapy benefit only acknowledges face-to-face visits from a nurse and fails to account for the extensive clinical and administrative services that are provided remotely by home infusion clinicians. As a result, provider participation in Medicare’s home infusion benefit has dropped sharply and beneficiaries have experienced reduced access to home infusion over the last several years.
The Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act provides technical clarifications that will remove the physical presence requirement, ensuring payment regardless of whether a health care professional is present in the patient’s home. The legislation also acknowledges the full scope of professional services provided in home infusion—including essential pharmacist services—into the reimbursement structure.
Rep. Harshbarger said, “For Medicare patients living in rural areas, regular visits to healthcare providers to receive infusion services often prove to be costly and burdensome. It is critical that common-sense reforms are passed to address CMS’ flawed implementation of home-based care for Medicare patients, which is why I am proud to co-sponsor the Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act. This legislation is vital to our many seniors who receive infusion treatments, ensuring patients have access to effective therapies from the safety and comfort of their homes, while producing cost-savings for both the Medicare program and patient.”
Rep. Sewell said, “Countless Alabamians, especially those in rural communities, rely on home infusion services for life-saving care. It has never been more critical to ensure that patients continue to receive this care safely in their homes. I’m so proud to introduce this bipartisan bill and urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to give it their full support.”
This legislation has been endorsed by the National Home Infusion Therapy Association and Vital Care Infusion Services.
“We applaud Congressman Buchanan and the other bill sponsors for their leadership on common sense legislation that will ensure Medicare patients have access to home infusion therapy,” said Connie Sullivan, President and CEO of the National Home Infusion Association. “Home-based infusion services offer countless public health benefits to patients, from reducing the threat of infection, to relieving transportation challenges, providing access in rural areas, reducing costs, avoiding unnecessary facility stays, and so much more. Americans have overwhelmingly demonstrated they prefer to receive medical treatments at home when given the option — and this legislation marks an important step in making that option available to our Medicare beneficiaries.”
Congressman Buchanan is vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee and chairman of the Health Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over this legislation.