05.01.19

Bipartisan Bill Helps Protect Access to Life-Saving Transplants

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Patient Access to Cellular Transplant (PACT) Act, which would protect access to bone marrow and cord blood transplants for Americans on Medicare. The bill would better align payment policies for hospitals that treat seniors with different types of blood cancers, like leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell disease.

“Americans suffering from life-threatening blood diseases shouldn’t be deprived of treatment just because Medicare’s reimbursement process is complicated and bureaucratic,” said Senator Burr.  “That is why I am proud to work with my colleagues on this legislation that will remove unnecessary barriers and make sure folks on Medicare, including our seniors, have access to these life-saving innovations.”

“Medicare patients are now benefiting from lifesaving bone marrow and stem cell transplants that weren’t possible years ago,” said Senator Stabenow. “It’s critical that we act to modernize the payments system for these patients so they can have access to these critical treatments.”

“We owe it to folks with sickle cell disease and other rare blood-related diseases to remove barriers in the Medicare reimbursement system that make it difficult for many Americans to access the care they need to live,” said Senator Scott. “The PACT Act will make it easier for them to receive these curative treatments.”

“The PACT Act provides hope to the many Americans who suffer from diseases like leukemia and lymphoma and have struggled to access the care they need,” said Senator Brown. “As bipartisan champions for these patients, we urge our colleagues to support the PACT Act so these vulnerable patients can access the care they need to survive.”

Background:

Currently, Medicare does not adequately cover the cost of providing bone marrow or cord blood transplants to its recipients. As a result, transplant centers across the country are losing thousands of dollars on each Medicare beneficiary they treat with this curative therapy.  

This legislation better aligns the reimbursement policies for hospitals by creating a system similar to the one currently in place for organ transplants.  Specifically, Medicare would reimburse hospitals for the costs of searching for donors and acquiring cells and bone marrow, separately from the cost of completing the life-saving transplants. 

Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Kenny Marchant (R-TX) also introduced identical legislation in the House of Representatives this week.