Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said she was “disappointed” that the Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act (H.R. 4104) was not one of the 21 healthcare bills considered during a Nov. 15 House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting.
In a Nov. 16 news announcement, the National Home Infusion Association (NHIA) quoted Dingell, a home infusion champion, as saying, “I’m disappointed and quite frankly perplexed by why the Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act wasn’t included as part of today’s markup. This bill has earned the support of a wide array of stakeholders, advocates, and Members, including several on this Committee who’ve been asking for the technical fix for years.
“As we discuss ways to bring more infusion drugs into this benefit, it’s frustrating that we’re not also ensuring that the existing home infusion benefit is working properly, and that’s exactly what the Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act does.”
Medicare “Lags Behind” on Home Infusion Policy
Dingell wasn’t the only one expressing frustration. Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-Tenn.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said, “As a pharmacist, I’ve witnessed first-hand the tremendous power of home infusion, and I know what it means for patients and their families when they’re able to receive treatments from the comfort of their home. Frankly, it baffles me as well that the Medicare system lags so far behind our commercial payers in providing access to this vital service.”
The NHIA noted that Dingell herself has used a self-administered anti-infective therapy “to make the point that when clinically appropriate, home infusion therapy may not require an infusion pump or a nurse to be present for every administration.”
Dingell added, “I think that this method of home infusion of drugs can often be safer and easier for patients when it’s an option. While we’re examining ways to bring new home infusion drugs into the benefit, I urge all my colleagues not to limit them to only drugs administered through a pump, and I would ask the Chairman if he would work with me and the rest of my colleagues as we move this forward.”
The NHIA said Subcommittee Chairman Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) “committed to working with Reps. Dingell and Harshbarger to advance the bill in the near future.”
Dingell: Medicare’s Home Infusion Policy Is Limiting Patients’ Options
During the committee meeting, Dingell said, “In 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act established a home infusion professional service benefit for Medicare Part B infusion drugs. But despite Congress’ intent, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have improperly implemented this benefit by requiring a nurse to be physically present in the patient’s home in order to be reimbursed.
“This 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, and beneficiaries have experienced reduced access to home infusion over the last several years, which was not the intent. And it’s precisely why we’ve been fighting for the Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act. It provides technical clarifications that would remove the physical presence requirement, ensuring payment regardless of whether a healthcare professional is present in the patient’s home.”
Dingell added that the home infusion option offers benefits for both patients and healthcare professionals. “When given the choice, we know patients would overwhelmingly prefer to receive care at home, which would result in significant savings for patients and their providers,” Dingell said in the meeting.