WASHINGTON DC – Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) celebrated the passage today of their landmark legislation, HR 3630, the Lymphedema Treatment Act, which will provide Medicare Part B coverage for physician-prescribed compression garments, clinically recognized treatment for lymphedema. The bill, which was reintroduced in June 2021, is also co-led by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Mike Kelly (R-PA).
“We are poised to provide relief to patients with lymphedema, some of whom are living through one of the worst diagnoses imaginable – cancer – only to emerge with an equally debilitating condition and a fraction of the resources and support. As co – Chair of the Cancer Survivor Caucus and Pharmacist, I’m thrilled to see Congress bring relief to patients who have been denied Medicare for far too long,” said Rep. Carter.
“Today the House of Representatives took a giant step to finally provide much needed relief to more than three million lymphedema patients on Medicare,” said MP Jan Schakowsky. “My bill, the Lymphedema Treatment Act, which I was proud to introduce with my colleague, Rep. Buddy Carter (GA-01), will expand access to medical compression garments that patients with lymphedema count to treat their painful and incurable swelling. The bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support thanks to the tireless work of advocates like Heather Ferguson, founder and executive director of the Lymphedema Advocacy Group, and her teenage sons. With huge bipartisan support in the Senate, we can get this bill to President Biden’s office before the end of the year. Millions of lymphedema patients rely on us.”
Lymphedema is a group of chronic, progressive conditions characterized by swelling and discomfort in various parts of the body due to malfunctions in the lymphatic system. Between 1.5 and 3 million Medicare beneficiaries currently suffer from lymphedema. Patients undergoing cancer treatment are particularly susceptible to lymphedema. When left untreated or undertreated, lymphedema can lead to complications, infections, comorbidities, loss of function, and disability, often requiring costly visits to the emergency room or hospital. Commercial insurance and state Medicaid programs currently cover compression therapy.
“Komen applauds the passage of the Lymphedema Treatment Act as an important step in easing the financial burden felt by many breast cancer patients and survivors who suffer from lymphedema, especially Black and Hispanic women, and calls for rapid adoption in the Senate”, said Molly Guthrie, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for Susan G. Komen. “Using prescribed medical compression garments significantly improves patient health and quality of life through a reduced incidence of infections, hospitalizations and other costly but preventable complications. However, the direct costs of these clothes prevent people from accessing them.”
“The Oncology Nursing Society applauds the bipartisan leadership of U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Buddy Carter for championing the needed patient-centered Lymphedema Treatment (LTA) Act. Nurses help cancer patients and survivors navigate symptom management, and ALT will have a direct impact on how patients and their families cope with the many burdens of lymphedema. Thank you for your support in passing this law! said Jeannine Brant, PhD, APRN-CNS, AOCN®, FAAN, ONS President.
The Lymphedema Treatment Act has strong support from a broad coalition of patient, provider and industry advocacy groups, including the Lymphedema Advocacy Group; the American Cancer Society; the American Medical Association; the Lymphatic Education and Research Network; 3M; the Oncology Nursing Society; the American Physical Therapy Association; the American Association of Occupational Therapy; American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; American Association of Nurse Practitioners; US Framework Project on Lymphedema; American Association of Nurses; action against breast cancer; Cancer legal care; Legal Center for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Greet the day; LIVESTRONG; Flagship Lymphedema Network; Living Beyond Breast Cancer; Lipedema Foundation; North American Lymphology Association; Comprehensive National Cancer Control Network; National Lymphedema Network; National Patient Advocate Foundation; Northwestern Lymphedema Center; National Ovarian Cancer Alliance; Society of Gynecologic Oncology; Society of Vascular Nursing; Susan G. Komen; Society of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses; Ackerman Cancer Center; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Boston Children’s Hospital, Center for Vascular Anomalies; Essentially Women, a division of VGM Group, Inc.; EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases; James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute at Ohio State University; Moffitt Cancer Center; Penn Medicine Cancer Rehabilitation; Phelan McDermid Syndrome Foundation; Seattle Cancer Care Alliance; UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; and the University of Vermont Cancer Center.
Read the full text of the bill here.
Read the related editorial from Rep. Carter in The hill.