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The bipartisan legislation eliminates the Medicare payment barrier to the only curative therapy option for patients with blood cancer

December 27 2019

National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match® commends Congress and the President for signing into law today the Patient Access to Cellular Therapy (PACT) Act (H.R. 2498/S. 1268), which was included in the end of year legislative package. The bipartisan legislation will 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.

“The inclusion of the PACT Act in today’s bipartisan end of year package, represents a major victory for the 1.3 million Americans fighting blood cancers,” said C. Randal Mills, Ph.D., NMDP/Be The Match Chief Executive Officer. “By increasing funding for life-saving cellular transplants and removing Medicare barriers that inhibit access to care, Congress has given hope to patients in need of these curative treatments.”

Added Mills, “We thank every lawmaker who has worked to reduce the burden and suffering of blood cancer and other blood diseases on senior citizens by advancing legislation to remove financial barriers to accessing cellular therapy.” Thanks in large part to volunteers across the country who have worked tireless to advance this critical legislation, the bill has unwavering bipartisan support with 29 sponsors in the House of Representatives and six sponsors in the US Senate. We thank PACT Act original sponsors Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI), Kenny Marchant (R-TX), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) in the House and Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Richard Burr (R-NC), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Tim Scott (R-SC) in the Senate for their work to move this important policy forward.

We also thank committee and chamber leaders on both sides of the aisle including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Kevin Brady, Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR).”

Patient access to life-saving bone marrow and cord blood transplant is the NMDP/Be The Match’s top priority. The organization works closely with public and private insurers to ensure all patients have equal access to treatment. Inadequate Medicare transplant reimbursement, primarily for donor-related costs, poses a significant barrier to patient access.

Unlike Medicare payment policies for the acquisition of solid organs for transplant, Medicare does not provide separate payments for the cost of identifying genetically matched donors, acquiring and transporting bone marrow, and the transplant procedure itself.  As a result, hospitals take substantial financial losses on these life-saving procedures, which often require a 20-to-30-day hospital stay on average, because the reimbursement rate does not come close to covering the true costs of treatment.

NMDP/Be The Match looks forward to working closely with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which operates the Medicare program, to ensure the PACT Act is implemented as quickly as possible, so that no Medicare beneficiary is at risk for not getting the bone marrow, peripheral blood stem cell or cord blood transplant he or she needs to survive.

About National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match
For people with life-threatening blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, a cure exists. National Marrow Donor Program(NMDP)/Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant and works to identify and eliminate financial and other barriers faced by these patients. NMDP also provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education, and guidance before, during and after transplant.