The law on the treatment of lymphedema must be passed
As we come to the end of the month and start a new season, sometimes it’s a good time to take stock, see if we’re on the right track.
March is a good month to do this too because we are preparing for Easter next month. It is also Lymphedema Awareness Month. For those who don’t know, lymphedema is the buildup of excess fluid in the limbs. Sometimes it’s a birth defect, but often it’s the result of another disease process or, for many of the people I serve, it’s the result of cancer treatments, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
This condition can be painful and interfere with movement resulting in disability. Fortunately, we have effective treatments. It’s not a cure, but like diabetes, we can manage it. the keystone of all our treatments are compression garments.
Without clothing, the fluid returns and sufferers continue to suffer. As a physical therapist and certified lymphedema therapist, I regularly treat people with this disease. And what’s most frustrating is I have to tell people that even though we can help them get some of the fluid out, it will come back without the proper care, including compression garments, and their insurance won’t pay not for that. You see, Medicare doesn’t recognize the category of compression garments because it doesn’t fit into any of their known categories, and what Medicare doesn’t pay for many insurances follows. Interestingly enough, studies have proven that providing patients with compression garments actually saves money while reducing the cost of infection (one of the major side effects of uncontrolled lymphedema) . That’s why the Medicaid program in 38 states that generally follow Medicare guidelines has reversed and started providing needed clothing.
There is a bill in Congress called the Lymphedema Treatment Act that aims to close its gap in Congress. Let’s pass this bill!
Compression is to lymphedema what medication is to many other illnesses: essential!
It is estimated that 3 to 5 million Americans suffer from lymphedema.
Would we refuse a diabetic insulin? It also costs us money not to provide this essential element of a person’s overall treatment.
Please join me in urging your members of Congress to support and pass this bill.