Federal Affairs

Lymphedema Treatment Act Passed the House

Reported by Gail Zitterkopf, PT, DPT, Federal Affairs Chair of the Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy

Update: 

The Senate companion is S. 518 sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and currently has 70 senate co-sponsors. In terms of next steps, the hope is that that S. 518 will be included in the Senate drug-pricing legislative package (HR 3 was the House drug-pricing bill). Or the Senate could attached S. 518 to another legislative vehicle. We have until the end of 2020 to get it through the senate and signed into law. The Coalition that APTA is part of for this bill has an action center for folks to contact their senators: Call Your Senators

 

The Lymphedema Treatment Act  was added on to H.R. 3, the Medicare drug-pricing bill with 106 co-sponsors.  To therapists, H.R. 3 is regarded as the Lymphedema Treatment Act, legislation that would ensure Medicare Part B coverage of compression therapy, the clinically-recognized treatment for lymphedema.  The bill sponsored by Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), has been supported by APTA over the years, and passed the House of Representatives vote on 12/16/2019.  It still need to get through the Senate.  Congratulations on a major step forward for those with lymphedema!

The Lymphedema Treatment Act would ensure Medicare Part B coverage of compression therapy, the clinically-recognized treatment for lymphedema.

I have seen Lymphedema in a close friend of mine, so I know that it can be a painful and costly condition to treat and manage on top of struggling with cancer,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky.“I want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chairman Frank Pallone Jr., Chairman Richard E. Neal, and Chairman Bobby Scott for including my legislation in H.R. 3. In addition to transforming our prescription drug market, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act will now make sure that those dealing with lymphedema don’t also have to worry about the cost of treating it. Nearly all of my colleagues in the House have cosponsored the Lymphedema Treatment Act.

Lymphedema is a chronic, progressive group of conditions characterized by swelling and discomfort in various parts of the body due to malfunctions in the lymphatic system. Between 1.5 and 3 million Medicare beneficiaries currently suffer from lymphedema. Patients undergoing treatment for cancer are particularly susceptible to lymphedema. When left untreated or undertreated, lymphedema can lead to complications, infections, comorbidities, loss of function, and disability—often necessitating costly emergency department or hospital visits. Commercial insurance and state Medicaid programs currently cover compression therapy.

The Lymphedema Treatment Act enjoys strong support from a broad coalition of patient advocacy, provider, and industry groups, including the Lymphedema Advocacy Group; the American Cancer Society; the American Medical Association; the Lymphatic Education and Research Network; 3M; the Oncology Nursing Society; the American Physical Therapy Association; the American Occupational Therapy Association; American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation; American Association of Nurse Practitioners; American Lymphedema Framework Project; American Nurses Association; Breast Cancer Action; Cancer Legal Care; Disability Rights Legal Center; Greet The Day; LIVESTRONG; Lighthouse Lymphedema Network; Living Beyond Breast Cancer; Lipedema Foundation; Lymphology Association of North America; National Comprehensive Cancer Network; National Lymphedema Network; National Patient Advocate Foundation; Northwest Lymphedema Center; Ovarian Cancer National Alliance; Society for Gynecologic Oncology; Society for Vascular Nursing; Susan G. Komen; Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society; Ackerman Cancer Center; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Boston Children’s Hospital, Vascular Anomalies Center; Essentially Women, a division of VGM Group, Inc.; EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases; James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute at The Ohio State University; Moffitt Cancer Center; Penn Medicine Cancer Rehabilitation; Phelan McDermid Syndrome Foundation; Seattle Cancer Care Alliance; UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; University of Vermont Cancer Center.

Please reach out to your Congressional Representative and THANK them for their support!!!!  Then take the next step and ask your two state Senators to become co-sponsors of S.

H.R.3 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act Sponsor: Rep. Pallone, Frank, Jr. [D-NJ-6] (Introduced 09/19/2019)

Cosponsors: (106Committees: House – Energy and Commerce; Ways and Means; Education and Labor

Notes: Bills can be tracked through the process at www.Thomas.gov .

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