New Medicare IVIG Access Bills Introduced

Date: September 14, 2011

Two new intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) access bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, have been introduced. H.R. 1845, introduced by Representatives Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), and S. 960, introduced by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), both titled Medicare IVIG Access Act, provide for a study of issues relating to access to IVIG for Medicare beneficiaries in all care settings and a demonstration project to examine the benefits of providing coverage and payment for items and services necessary to administer IVIG in the home for patients with primary immunodeficiency diseases (PIDDs). Current law pays for IVIG but prohibits Medicare from reimbursing for nursing services and equipment necessary to infuse a patient in the home setting.

According to an Immune Deficiency Foundation patient survey, when compared to private insurance, Medicare patients share a disproportionate burden of negative consequences as a result of the changes in Medicare IVIG reimbursement policies. Since January 2005, 32 percent of Medicare patients reported they have been forced to change their preferred IVIG treatment location. Many patients now must receive IVIG in hospitals, which is not the ideal location for PIDD patients who are especially susceptible to opportunistic infections.