As a result of the dedicated efforts of hundreds of members of the bleeding disorders community, a bill to improve healthcare coverage for people on Medicare is now a reality. The bipartisan bill, Medigap Access Improvement Act of 2006 (H.R. 6175), was introduced in the House of Representatives on September 26th by Representatives Philip English (R-PA) and Bobby Rush (D-IL). (CLICK HERE TO SEND A LETTER TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVE REQUESTING THEY COSPONSOR THE BILL). Representative English conducted two media events in Pennsylvania to announce the legislation, with participation by members of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF).
The legislation is the result of efforts that began a year and a half ago with a meeting in Washington, D.C., initiated and hosted by NHF, with representatives from patient groups, treaters and industry. The purpose of the meeting was to address the 20% co-payment required by Medicare, which is particularly troublesome for people with bleeding disorders and other high-cost conditions. This financial problem has been compounded by the lower reimbursement formula for factor established as a result of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA).
Since that first meeting, NHF, the Hemophilia Federation of America (HFA), the Committee of Ten Thousand (COTT), representatives of industry and other groups have worked together to devise an appropriate and politically feasible solution. The consensus was to seek federal legislation that would mandate access to Medigap policies for all people on Medicare. Medigap policies are a form of supplemental insurance that pays for expenses not covered by Medicare. Currently, people who qualify for Medicare because of age may purchase these policies. However, in 26 states they are not available to people who qualify because of a disabling condition. The concept gained additional momentum when NHF made it one of its key “asks” in meetings with legislators during annual Washington Days events in March 2006. All of the coalition groups have been similarly active in engaging members and their representatives in this important issue.
Although much more effort will be needed to insure passage of this legislation, this represents an important milestone and is a significant affirmation of the community’s efforts.
CLICK HERE TO SEND A LETTER TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVE REQUESTING HE/SHE COSPONSOR THE BILL
CLICK HERE TO READ A SUMMARY OF THE LEGISLATION
CLICK HERE FOR BRIEF TALKING POINTS ABOUT THE BILL
For more information, please contact Glenn Mones, NHF’s Vice President for Public Policy at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Andrew Wurtzel of MARC Associates, NHF’s Washington representatives, at Andrew@marcassoc.com.