Medicare Part B Improvement Act Passes House

Legislation expands access to home infusion services for Medicare beneficiaries.

Yesterday, the House unanimously passed bipartisan legislation that aims to improve Medicare Part B for patients with significant health problems and their healthcare providers.

The bill seeks to improve the delivery of infusion drugs and dialysis in the homes of Medicare patients. In-home infusion allows patients to receive personalized treatments without the burden and cost of traveling to a healthcare facility.

The bipartisan legislation, the Medicare Part B Improvement Act of 2017 (HR 3178), was introduced by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA), according to a press release.

“Improving and strengthening Medicare for the long term is a major priority for the American people and Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle,” Brady said during a speech. “But, as we pursue this larger goal, we should not pass up opportunities to make smart, focused improvements that will help Medicare beneficiaries today. And that’s exactly what the ‘Medicare Part B Improvement Act’ will do.”

Brady said that the Medicare Part B Improvement Act expands access to high-quality care, improves care delivery, and eases administrative burdens on healthcare providers, according to the speech.

Additionally, the bill extends the ongoing intravenous immunoglobulin demonstration program, which allows patients with weak immune systems to receive in-home care to prevent adverse events.

Brady said that allowing patients with various health conditions, including autoimmune diseases, to receive in-home infusion can improve quality of care and quality of life. This legislation may reduce healthcare costs, while providing Medicare patients with access to high-quality care, according to the release.

Rep Pat Tiberi (R-OH) remarked that the bill also provides a temporary transitional payment for in-home infusion services, in line with the 21st Century Cures Act.

“The 21st Century Cures Act created a new reimbursement benefit for home infusion therapies beginning in 2021,” Tiberi said in his speech. “This new temporary transitional payment will help bridge the potential gap in care for beneficiaries, and home infusion providers will continue to administer these therapies without risk of going bankrupt.”

Expanding access to home infusion services may be especially beneficial to elderly Americans living in rural areas, according to Tiberi. These patients may have to travel long distances or rely on loved ones for transportation to receive infusion services. Bringing the treatment directly to patients may make them less likely to skip treatment due to weather or other circumstances.

“I would like to conclude with a commitment that this is not the end for policies encouraging care — especially drug infusion – in the home for patients that choose to do so,” Tiberi said.