Monday, February 2, 2009

Health Care Programs Benefit in Economic Recovery Legislation

Congressional leaders have been working on legislation to help restore the nation's economy. The proposed economic stimulus package entitled the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (HR. 1/S. 1) offers aid to domestic programs that are intended to spur the economy, job market, and help balance the nation's debt.

Many health care programs will benefit from passage of the stimulus package, including:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH): $3.5 billion of funding for projects including biomedical and stem cell research.
  • Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP): All states will get at least a 4.9 percent increase under FMAP to help maintain Medicaid programs.
  • Health Information Technology (IT): $20 billion in funding to establish government standards for health IT programs by 2010, and includes financial incentives for participation and privacy and security protections.
  • COBRA Insurance: Expansion of coverage including a 65 percent subsidy covering premiums for up to 12 months.

The House voted in favor (243-185) of the bill last week, and the Senate is expected to vote on the legislation this week. There is still time to make a difference to help pass this necessary legislation.

Take Action Now!
Call the Capitol switchboard at 1-800-828-0498 to encourage your Senator to vote in favor of the economic stimulus package, which includes programs that are important to health care.

The inclusion of these health care programs reinforces their importance to restoring the economy. People living with MS and other diseases can benefit from these necessary revisions to programs under this legislation.

2 comments:

Ken said...

You may not be aware of some of the provisions in this Stimulus Bill represent the largest policy change since the implementation of Medicare. Some of these could be detrimental to chronically ill patients like those of us with MS. No longer will treatment be provided on the criteria of "safe and effective" but will now be on the additional requirement of "cost effective". If the newly established Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research deems a treatment not cost effective it will "guide" your physician to make the "right" decision. This is described in page 235 of the Senate version and 442 & 446 of the House version.

As you know the current cost of MS medications can range from $15,000 to $40,000 per year. The new stem cell treatments, which are showing to be very effective in trials will probably be more than $100,000. As we also know, the response of individual patients to the available treatments varies very, very widely (and evaluation of the patient response takes months or even years). At least under current rules the choice of treatment is between the doctor and patient.

This legislation will inject the Federal bureaucracy into the treatment decision for not only Medicare but private treatment. We can expect results will follow that of the UK (which has adopted this protocol) – I suggest you read some of the accounts of MS patients in the UK and Ireland (like J.K Rowling’s - regarding her mother’s MS) and their encounters with the National Health Service.



Unless these provisions are corrected I urge you to recommend that all MS patients contact their representatives and senators to vote against the bill.

Ken said...

You may not be aware of some of the provisions in this Stimulus Bill represent the largest policy change since the implementation of Medicare. Some of these could be detrimental to chronically ill patients like those of us with MS. No longer will treatment be provided on the criteria of "safe and effective" but will now be on the additional requirement of "cost effective". If the newly established Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research deems a treatment not cost effective it will "guide" your physician to make the "right" decision. This is described in page 235 of the Senate version and 442 & 446 of the House version.



As you know the current cost of MS medications can range from $15,000 to $40,000 per year. The new stem cell treatments, which are showing to be very effective in trials will probably be more than $100,000. As we also know, the response of individual patients to the available treatments varies very, very widely (and evaluation of the patient response takes months or even years). At least under current rules the choice of treatment is between the doctor and patient.

This legislation will inject the Federal bureaucracy into the treatment decision for not only Medicare but private treatment. We can expect results will follow that of the UK (which has adopted this protocol) – I suggest you read some of the accounts of MS patients in the UK and Ireland (like J.K Rowling’s - regarding her mother’s MS) and their encounters with the National Health Service.

Unless these provisions are corrected I urge you to recommend that all MS patients contact their representatives and senators to vote against the bill.