Infusion industry marches on

Monday, May 24, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The recently passed healthcare reform bill did not include Medicare coverage for home infusion therapy, but industry stakeholders say they still have fight in them.

"We think it's a piece of healthcare reform that was left out," said John Magnuson, vice president of legislative affairs for the National Home Infusion Association (NHIA).

The association has long sought to get home infusion services, supplies and equipment covered under Medicare Part B. In January of 2009, the Medicare Home Infusion Therapy Coverage Act of 2009 was introduced in both the House and Senate. To date, 32 senators and 103 representatives have signed on.

At the end of the day, however, the infusion industry did not have enough data to show lawmakers the cost-savings of providing the therapy in the home, said NHIA executives.

The association has taken  a step in that direction. In January,  NHIA launched a multi-phased data-gathering initiative (see HME News, March 2010). The association also plans to develop a demonstration project to show the effectiveness of home IV treatment, said Magnuson

Meanwhile, NHIA encourages members to continue reaching out to lawmakers, hosting site visits and gathering patient stories, that will help "put a face" on the industry, Magnuson said.

"We've gotten tremendous response from providers," he said. "Providers are very optimistic with the progress that's been made and continue to remain energized toward finding a solution."

Ultimately, whether the legislation gets included in another legislative vehicle this year or gets reintroduced in the next Congress, providers are in it for the long haul.

"This year is our best shot to get that legislation (passed)," said David Franklin, CEO of Meridian, Miss.-based Vital Care. "But if it dies this year with this Congress, we'll get it reintroduced. We're used to long marches."