Medicare IVIG Access Act Passed by U.S. House of Representatives

Dec 19, 2012, 14:55 ET from Immune Deficiency Foundation

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF), the national patient organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons with primary immunodeficiency diseases (PIDD), praises the actions of the U.S. House of Representatives in passing the Medicare IVIG Access Act (HR 1845).

In the U.S., there are approximately 250,000 people diagnosed with PIDD, and thousands more go undetected. PIDD occurs in patients born with an immune system that either is absent or poorly functioning. There are more than 185 different types of PIDD, all caused by hereditary or genetic defects.

Introduced by Representatives Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) with strong bipartisan support, HR 1845 responds to a quirk in current law whereby Medicare is only able to pay for the drug but not the costs associated with the infusion of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) in a patient at home, thus rendering the benefit useless and effectively denying IVIG home infusions. IDF believes that patients with PIDD should have the right to access all sites of care, including the right to be infused in the home setting when medically appropriate.

HR 1845 provides for a demonstration project to examine the benefits of providing coverage and payment for items and services necessary to administer IVIG in the home for patients with PIDD. Without treatment, everyday illnesses like the common cold can put these individuals at risk for infection and more serious complications. Approximately 10,000 Medicare patients with PIDD receive immunoglobulin therapy on a regular basis to replace the antibodies that their bodies do not produce naturally, allowing most to live healthy lives.

HR 1845 passed with 401 yeas, 3 nays. The bill now goes to the Senate, where its companion legislation S 960 was introduced by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN). The Medicare IVIG Access Act must be passed by the Senate before they adjourn from the current Congressional Session in order to be signed into law by the President.

"We feel very strongly that this legislation is essential to ensure the ability of patients to access their lifesaving treatments in the most appropriate site of care," said Marcia Boyle, IDF President and Founder. "Our champion Congressman Brady has helped HR 1845 pass in the House, and now we must look to the Senate to finally achieve appropriate treatment for these patients."

Congressman Brady, a member of House leadership who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, has been an extraordinary leader in helping patients with PIDD by introducing four IVIG access bills over the past several years and raising the issues of the community throughout the legislative process. 

Congresswoman Matsui, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is one of the key committees with jurisdiction over Medicare legislation, has been a leader on patient access to IVIG in the home for several years.

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SOURCE Immune Deficiency Foundation