NHIA continues push for coverage

‘There’s a certain battle weariness, but we’ve seen indications that we’ve reached a point far beyond where we’ve gotten in the past’
Friday, January 8, 2016

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Although 2015 ended without the passage of a pair of bills to create a comprehensive benefit for home infusion, stakeholders feel good about their chances in the upcoming year.

“We will be back at it with the Senate and House bills,” said Tyler Wilson, president and CEO of the National Home Infusion Association. “We are fortunate to have some particularly ardent supporters on both the Republican side and the Democratic side, and that bodes well for moving the legislation forward.”

The bills would require Medicare to pay for home infusion services and related supplies under Medicare Part B. 

It’s an effort that NHIA has pushed since 2006. The most recent iteration of legislation, The Medicare Home Infusion Site of Care Act of 2015, was introduced in January of 2015. Currently, the Senate bill has 19 co-sponsors; the House bill 30.

“There’s a certain battle weariness,” said Wilson. “But we’ve seen indications that we have reached a point in this current Congress that’s far beyond where we’ve gotten in the past.”

Members of the House of Representatives got back to work Jan. 6 and NHIA officials say they will be targeting a couple of vehicles expected early in the year for their legislation.

“We’ll be talking to our lead sponsors about how we can get in the queue and get this done,” said Kendall van Pool, vice president of legislative affairs for NHIA.

Because the bills are considered non-controversial, they could possibly get grouped with other non-controversial Medicare reforms and passed using a hotline process, similar to an 11th hour bill that passed in December just ahead of the end of the legislative session, van Pool said.

Despite bipartisan support for a home infusion benefit, past proposals continue to haunt.In December, the Office of Inspector General released a recap of its work in 2015, including an April report suggesting that CMS could save $251 million over an 18-month period by changing the way it pays for infusion drugs. The report was a rehash of a report from 2013.

“We never like seeing that over and over,” said van Pool. “It gives steam to congressional leaders to think about using that money for non-home infusion policies and issues.”