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News and Press: Policy News

Michigan Fred Upton Partners with New York Rep. Eliot Engel to Push for Expanded Home Infusions

Thursday, April 16, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alisha Brown
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U.S. Representatives Eliot L. Engel (NY-16) and Fred Upton (MI-06), top Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, today led a bipartisan group of 181 House Members in urging the Trump Administration to temporarily allow seniors to receive lifesaving drug infusions in their homes to prevent unnecessary trips to hospitals, which could potentially expose them to COVID-19.

“My district is at the epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak. New York health care facilities and providers are overburdened with treating coronavirus cases,” said Rep. Engel. “Right now, it is critical that we take commonsense steps to reduce the strain on New York’s health care system. Home infusion allows seniors and other vulnerable patient populations to receive their lifesaving medications in the safety of their home without putting additional strains on health care systems. We should be expanding home infusion services right now.”

"The coronavirus crisis is impacting not just those who are suffering with the virus, but every patient across the country. We should be using every tool in the toolbox to protect the health and safety of patients and health care providers," said Rep. Upton. "That's why a large bipartisan group of colleagues and I are calling on HHS and CMS to protect Medicare beneficiaries while ensuring vital care services will continue during this public health crisis."

“During these trying times, it is critically important that we protect the health of our nation’s most vulnerable patients, including people with lupus, who are at higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.  Allowing people with lupus and other serious conditions to receive their infusions at home, limiting their risk of exposure to the virus, is a sensible solution and we commend Congressman Engel and Congressman Upton for supporting this urgent issue,” said Steve Gibson, President and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America

"Representatives Engel and Upton have demonstrated leadership by recognizing that people and their families need to be able to access medicines in their homes during this pandemic," said Janet Mculsky, Chair of the National Alliance for Caregiving Board of Directors." Their advocacy demonstrates an ongoing commitment to meet people where they are and bring cutting-edge science to their doorsteps." 

“AARDA applauds the growing number of champions in the U.S. House of Representatives who are urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to improve and implement its Interim Final Rule to assure access to life-saving Medicare Part B injection and infusion medicines in home settings for people living with autoimmune diseases, serious illness, and other chronic conditions,”said Randy Rutta, CEO, American Autoimmune and Related Disorders Association

“As a practicing nurse and the leader of a national non-profit dedicated to improving women’s health, I applaud Congressmen Engel and Upton for their leadership to support patients who wish to receive their infusion therapy in the safety of their home, rather than having to travel to an infusion site.  In these challenging times where health care delivery is being reoriented in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, flexibility in how patients receive the care they need is absolutely appropriate – whether that be via telemedicine for care that can be provided that way, or home care when that is possible. As always, patients and their health providers should be allowed to make the decisions about care options based on the needs of the patients and what is best for their individual situations,” said Beth Battaglino, RN, CEO, HealthyWomen

Medicare covers a number of lifesaving drugs for conditions such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, which must be administered intravenously. Given the complexity and potency of these drugs, seniors must receive these medications in hospitals or physician offices. With the outbreak of coronavirus or COVID-19, these visits are potentially deleterious for seniors, as they are one of the most susceptible populations for this virus.

Home infusion services allow individuals to receive some simple intravenously-administered drugs in the comfort and safety of their homes. In their bipartisan letter, Representatives Engel and Upton, who created the home infusion benefit in Medicare Part B, are encouraging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to allow the delivery of more complex, lifesaving infusion drugs to be given to seniors at home to protect them from coronavirus.

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