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Congressman Mike Thompson

Representing the 5th District of CALIFORNIA

Thompson Applauds Passage of Medicare Improvement Bill

Jul 13, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) applauded the passage of the Medicare Part B Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 3178), a package of bipartisan reforms to Medicare which included two provisions he authored. The first would provide coverage of telehealth services for kidney failure patients receiving home dialysis. The second would improve how Medicare evaluates whether prosthetic or orthotic devices are medically necessary, ensuring patients can receive the devices they need.

“When you’re at your sickest or most vulnerable, you deserve access to the care and services you need without having to jump through hoops,” said Thompson. “Dialysis can be an uncomfortable, difficult procedure. Depending on where you live, it might be hard to find a treatment center nearby. My provision will allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive dialysis from the comfort of their own home while using cutting-edge telehealth services to monitor the procedure. Telehealth saves lives and cuts cost. This is a win-win for everyone.

“Likewise, patients in need of prosthetics or orthotics shouldn’t be delayed by unnecessary red tape. Reducing Medicare fraud is extremely important, and we can do so without jeopardizing the care beneficiaries need and deserve. I am proud to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure we take care of the millions of men and women who rely on Medicare.”

Thompson is a senior member of the House Subcommittee on Health. He authored two of the provisions passed in the Medicare Part B Improvement Act:

  • Expanding Access to Home Dialysis Therapy: Medicare does not reimburse for telehealth services delivered to patients suffering from End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), or kidney failure, at home. However, many of these beneficiaries often seek access to dialysis treatment in their own homes. Telehealth could allow for necessary visits and monitoring without expensive or difficult trips to a provider’s office. This bill allows beneficiaries with renal failure to use telehealth for home dialysis monitoring.
  • Orthotist’s and Prosthetist’s Clinical Notes as Part of the Patient’s Medical Record: In some cases, the Medicare claims review process has led to payment denials for medically necessary prosthetics and orthotics. This provision allows prosthetists and orthotists—who evaluate and fit beneficiaries for orthotics and prosthetics—to submit additional evidence of medical necessity to support providers’ records.

The Medicare Part B Improvement Act also included provisions to improve access to home infusion therapy, extend a demonstration project for the treatment of critically ill patients at home, address an accreditation backlog of dialysis facilities, and clarify physician anti-kickback laws. The bill passed with broad bipartisan support.