August 8, 2022
Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA.), one of two pharmacists in Congress, penned an op-ed, “Four years later, Medicare policy is still failing home infusion therapy patients” recently published in The Hill. The article highlights flaws in CMS’ implementation of the Home Infusion Therapy Services benefit that is limiting access to these services.
Carter says, “…almost four years into the creation of a new Medicare benefit designed to promote access to home infusion, this vital health program is failing to keep up with the needs of America’s seniors.”
Unlike all other payers—including commercial plans, Medicare Advantage Plans and others—CMS instituted an unnecessary requirement that a skilled professional be physically present in the patient’s home on the day of administration for Medicare reimbursement to occur.
“This fundamentally defeats the purpose of home infusion, which is to give patients the freedom to receive and administer their infusions at home without a health care professional” says Carter.
This insufficient reimbursement for the extensive services home infusion pharmacies provide jeopardizes Medicare beneficiaries’ access. According to CMS’ own data, less than 1,300 Medicare beneficiaries accessed the benefit each calendar quarter from Q1 2019 to Q1 2021.
“Without access to home infusion, Medicare beneficiaries are instead being directed to institutional settings–increasing costs to both patients and federal taxpayers while unnecessarily inconveniencing patients that don’t otherwise need to be in facilities to receive their care” says Carter.
Legislation before Congress, the Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act (H.R 5067; S.2652) would fix CMS’ failed implementation of the HIT services benefit by providing coverage for infusion services every day a drug is infused, rather than only on days when a skilled professional is physically present.
We are grateful for Rep. Carter’s support of this issue and the Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act.
NHIA submitted comments on a CMS proposed rule (CMS-1770-P) that would affect Medicare payments and coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and coding and billing requirements related to the use of single dose containers and drug waste.
Dozens of health systems, hospitals, and group purchasing organizations are calling on Congress to address Medicare beneficiary access to home infusion services and pass legislation that would increase access to home-based care, urging congressional leaders to advance the Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act (S. 2652/H.R. 5067) to encourage access to home infusion therapy for Medicare beneficiaries.