IDSA Issues Statement on Reintroduction of Home Infusion Legislation

The following statement was made by Donald M. Poretz, MD, immediate past president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). Poretz practices medicine in Annandale, Va., and has provided home infusion therapy to his privately insured patients for several years. Poretz states, “The bipartisan group of senators and representatives who reintroduced home infusion legislation in the new Congress have taken an important step toward delivering on a key promise that President Obama made on his inauguration—to raise healthcare’s quality and lower its cost. As an infectious disease doctor, I often prescribe home infusion drugs, such as antibiotics and antivirals, for patients who have serious infections, like pneumonia or heart infections. Home infusion therapy allows my patients to be treated safely in the comfort of their own homes. Not only are they happier, but they are also less likely to be exposed to hospital-acquired infections, many of which are drug-resistant. Unfortunately, today, we have two standards of care. Patients who have good private health insurance usually have this benefit covered. Patients who have Medicare do not. As a result, Medicare patients who need antimicrobial infusion services often must be admitted to a hospital or live in a nursing home to receive treatment. Not only is this unnecessary, inconvenient and difficult for the patient, but it also is costly to the Medicare program. A home infusion therapy benefit under Medicare would reduce hospital stays and decrease costs. For many of my patients, who are already actively fighting infections, quality care in the home is the best way to go.”

Editor’s Note:The Medicare Home Infusion Therapy Coverage Act of 2009 was introduced concurrently in the Senate (S. 254) by Sens. Blanche L. Lincoln (D-AR) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) and in the House (H.R. 574) by Reps. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) and Timothy F. Murphy (R-PA). The legislation would give Medicare beneficiaries access to the same life-saving drug therapies in the home setting that are already enjoyed by most privately insured patients. Both bills also would require high quality standards to ensure the safe and effective provision of home infusion therapies.

 When Congress passed the Medicare Modernization Act in 2003, lawmakers added coverage for home infusion drugs. Unfortunately, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) interpreted the law to cover only the drugs but not the services and supplies associated with home infusion therapy, including pharmacy and care coordination services, medical supplies and equipment, and when necessary nursing services. S. 254 and H.R. 574 would fix this problem.

Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)