Smith Co-Sponsors, Votes Yes on Medicare Improvement
Today, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chair of the House panel on global health, applauded the passage of legislation he co-sponsored, the “Medicare Part B Improvement Act” (H.R. 3178). The legislation, authored by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), will now move to the Senate for further action.
“Last Congress we passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which expanded Medicare coverage to include home infusion therapy,” said Smith, who has supported expanded coverage of home infusion therapy in numerous congressional sessions. “This bill builds upon and strengthens those provisions. Infusion therapy is very demanding, with the course of treatment often lasting several hours per day over a six-to-eight week period. For those receiving treatment—who are often gravely ill—commuting on a daily basis to receive treatment can be incredibly cumbersome. Coverage of in-home service will ensure that Medicare best serves the needs of its beneficiaries and avoids unnecessary costs associated with institutional settings.”
H.R. 3178 has four main provisions. The legislation will:
· Improve provisions of home infusion therapy, closing a donut hole in coverage from 2017 to 2021 that may appear due to earlier changes;
· Improve patient access to dialysis services, specifically allowing access to an outside agency to participate in dialysis—a program currently available for most Medicare services;
· Improve application of Stark Rules, physician self-referral laws meant to prevent financial interests from interfering with clinical decisions;
· Ensure Medicare beneficiaries have access to medically necessary prosthetics and orthotics.
Smith has a long history of fighting for Medicare improvements. In 2004 Smith successfully pressed to include three N.J. counties in the New York City Metropolitan Statistical Area, increasing funding by more than $110 million. More recently, in 2015, Smith’s HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act was introduced to provide Medicare coverage for a care planning session for patients newly-diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. Much of Smith’s legislation was adopted by Medicare.