Updated March 2016
2016 may well be the year that Congress votes to approve the Lymphedema Treatment Act, which provides a Medicare benefit category for essential compression garments and supplies needed by lymphedema patients as part of their treatment and self-care management. Lymphedema affects hundreds of thousands of patients across the country—this lymphatic swelling condition can occur on its own, but, for many it is a side effect of cancer treatment that adds an immense physical and financial burden to people who are already faced with a long list of medical expenses.
The National Lymphedema Network is proud to be a part of advocacy efforts to carry this important piece of legislation to passage. Recognizing lymphedema patients is key in creating change in the insurance and medical communities to better deliver coverage to patients with this under-diagnosed condition. The Lymphedema Treatment Act will establish a benefit category in the Medicare statute to provide coverage for the compression supplies essential to the treatment of lymphedema. We encourage all members of the lymphedema community to get involved by writing to their Senators and Representative to help in the nationwide efforts to raise support and sponsorship of this bill. Many opportunities to get involved are available at www.lymphedematreatmentact.org.
Over the course of 22 years, the NLN has honored more than 250 exceptional individuals who make a difference, from throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad. In addition, March 6th has been recognized as Lymphedema Awareness Day by state legislatures including California, Florida, Missouri, New York, and Virginia.
Our 2016 Lymphedema Awareness Day Awards included recognition of some of the original congressional sponsors of the bill:
Congressional Sponsors and Original Cosponsors of the Lymphedema Treatment Act:
- Representative David G. Reichert (R-WA-8), Sponsor of H.R. 1608
- Representative Earl D. Blumenauer (D-OR-3), Original Cosponsor of H.R. 1608
- Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ-7), Original Cosponsor of H.R. 1608
- Representative Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL-9), Original Cosponsor of H.R. 1608
- Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sponsor of S.2373
- Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Original Cosponsor of S.2373
- Senator Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL), Original Cosponsor of S.2373
- Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Original Cosponsor of S.2373
Now, as we move in to 2016, we see the real possibility of the passage of these bills in both the House and Senate, possibly within the year. While this legislation provides lymphedema patients across the country with hope for better accessibility to care, we must still work hard and work together to bring about this change. You can write to your senator or representative to be sure that they are in support of these important bills, and we can all help give voice to this long-neglected patient community!
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