By Donna Sweeney, ONS Director of Government Affairs

On August 25, 2017, ONS submitted comments to the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee in response to its Medicare Red Tape Relief Project. The initiative, sponsored by subcommittee chairman Pat Tiberi (R-OH), asked providers for input on ways to improve health care for seniors and reduce Medicare regulations and mandates.

The subcommittee’s goal was to provide useful information to Congress, delivering statutory relief from mandates. It also aimed to assist Congress in making recommendations to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, as well as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma.

ONS made two requests in its comments to improve quality and encourage innovation in Medicare. First, it urged CMS to have Medicare cover medically prescribed compression supplies for the treatment of lymphedema. Because 1.5 million Medicare beneficiaries experience chronic lymphedema system failure, ONS also proposed to cover those supplies under durable medical equipment or another sub-benefit category.

ONS also shared the Putting Evidence into Practice (PEP) resources for the most effective ways to treat lymphedema. ONS has identified evidence recommended for practice as well as evidence that’s not effective for treatment. In its PEP resources, ONS specifically recommends compression garments and bandages for practice.

How the Medicare Red Tape Relief Project Impacts Nurses

Oncology nurses maintain principal responsibility for managing side effects in patients with cancer. Improving Medicare insurance coverage for compression garments through the Medicare Red Tape Relief Project will give nurses the opportunity to be more effective caregivers while also improving outcomes for patients with lymphedema.

In its comments to the house subcommittee, ONS also reiterated its opposition to CMS’s proposed Merit-Based Incentive Payment System adjustment for Medicare Part B drugs that would negatively impact patients with cancer in rural practices.

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