WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) and Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) introduced legislation yesterday to improve access to disposable negative pressure wound therapy for homebound Medicare beneficiaries. This legislation simplifies the structure of the disposable negative pressure wound therapy benefit and streamlines billing practices for home health agencies.
“Disposable negative pressure wound therapy has helped homebound Medicare beneficiaries access treatment from the safety of their own home. Due to administrative burdens, many home health agencies have not been able to use this technology,” said Mullin. “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important now than ever to reduce the number of hospital visits for vulnerable patients. I am proud to work with Congressman Butterfield to cut red tape and help Medicare recipients receive the care they need at home.”
“We in America have made great strides in developing technology to more efficiently address the needs of some of the nation’s most vulnerable. It is imperative that we ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have access to the latest innovations by removing any unnecessary barriers to quality care,” said Butterfield. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, homebound Medicare beneficiaries need access to disposable negative pressure wound therapy now more than ever. This negative pressure wound therapy not only prevents unnecessary complications and hospitalizations due to preventable chronic wound infections, but it also reduces the number of visits necessary from home health aides. This will reduce the threat of COVID-19 transmission and the unnecessary use of personal protective equipment that results from multiple home visits. Unfortunately, many home health agencies have been discouraged to make use of this technology because of undue administrative burdens. This is why I am glad to join Congressman Mullin in introducing this commonsense legislation to make it easier for Medicare beneficiaries to receive high quality care at home.”
In 2015, Congress acted on a bipartisan basis to provide homebound Medicare beneficiaries access to disposable negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT). This cost-effective, clinically proven, and patient-friendly technology can substitute for heavier, durable medical equipment versions of NPWT in the vast majority of cases.
CMS’s implementation of the law, however, created an administrative burden that is discouraging the use of this technology by home health agencies (HHAs). By making it easier for HHAs to treat chronic wounds, Congress can help keep homebound patients—including those with diabetes—out of hospitals and physicians’ offices, where they may risk a greater exposure to COVID-19.