This week, Congressman Kenny Marchant joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives in introducing the Patient Access to Cellular Therapy (PACT) Act (H.R. 2498) to expand Medicare beneficiaries’ access to cellular transplants, which can be the only curative treatments for blood cancers such as leukemia or lymphoma and other blood diseases. Representatives Ron Kind (WI-03), Doris Matsui (CA-06) and Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) joined Congressman Marchant in introducing the bill in the House.
“By reforming Medicare reimbursement policy to treat cord blood and bone marrow transplants the same as solid organ transplants, the PACT Act will help make it easier for extremely sick patients to access the treatments that will cure them and save their lives. I am honored to stand with my colleagues in Congress and sponsor this critical pro-patient legislation,” said Congressman Kenny Marchant.
Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Richard Burr (R-NC), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Tim Scott (R-SC) also introduced the bill in the Senate last week (S. 1268).
If enacted, the PACT Act would require Medicare to adequately reimburse hospitals for the cost to identify genetically matched donors, acquire and transport bone marrow, and perform life-saving cellular transplants.
Currently, Medicare does not cover the cost of search and cell acquisition for blood cancer patients. Moreover, as patients recover from lifesaving procedures—requiring a 20- to 30-day hospital stay on average—hospitals take huge financial hits because Medicare’s reimbursement rate does not come close to covering the true cost of treatment.
While the current Medicare inpatient base reimbursement rate is slightly more than $62,000, the cost of cell acquisition takes a significant portion of this reimbursement, leaving little available for patient care.
As medical science has advanced to make these life-saving transplant an option for patients 65 years and older, hospitals cannot afford to absorb the significant losses they incur from the current reimbursement rate for Medicare beneficiaries. Yet, these transplants are often the only curative option for these patients.