Providers 'speak for patients'

Saturday, January 31, 2009

ALEXANDRIA, Va.--Home infusion providers aim to take advantage of a new administration and an annual conference conveniently located in Baltimore to make themselves heard.

As part of the National Home Infusion Association’s 2009 Annual Conference and Expo March 1-5, providers will participate in Legislative Hill Day.

“The timing comes as Congress is addressing major healthcare reform,” said John Magnuson, vice president of legislative affairs for NHIA. “Our members are coming to speak for their Medicare patients and caregivers.”

Conference attendees must register in advance for the daylong Hill event. NHIA will provide transportation and breakfast, and it will schedule visits with lawmakers. So far, about 300 providers have signed on, said Magnuson.

Providers will push two pieces of legislation: H.R. 2567, introduced in July 2007; and S.B. 3505, introduced in September 2008. Both bills would require Medicare to pay for services, supplies and equipment related to home infusion therapy under Part B. Currently, Medicare pays for home infusion drugs under Part D, along with a small dispensing fee for services and supplies.

The bills have been well-received and are expected to be reintroduced in the 111th Congress, said Magnuson.

“We think this year is a great opportunity for us to pass this legislation,” he said. “A lot of members have been hosting site visits, gathering patient stories and reaching out to Congress.”

NHIA has capitalized on provider efforts with a new centralized grassroots location on its Web site.

Providers can get tips on contacting lawmakers and scheduling site visits; read legislative summaries; and download templates for gathering patient stories that show the value of home infusion services.

“The old saying is that all politics is local,” said Magnuson. “Having people working at the local level is the most effective means of working with our government.”