FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –Today, April 1, 2022, H.R. 7346: John W. Walsh Home Infusion Act will be introduced. This legislation, when passed, will change the Medicare law to improve access to augmentation therapy infusions at home for individuals with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1) under Medicare Part B. The Act is named after the Alpha-1 Foundation’s late co-founder and President John W. Walsh and honors the contributions that he and his family made to the Alpha-1 community.
The bill is being introduced by the original co-sponsors: Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME). Salazar’s interest stems from the fact that the Foundation’s offices are in Coral Gables, Florida which is in her district, and Pingree joined the bill on behalf of one of her constituents living with Alpha-1. The bill number became available in the Congressional Record today as H.R. 7346. Now that the bill has been introduced (colloquially referred to as “dropped”) and assigned a number (H.R.7346), it will begin making its way through the legislative process.
“There is no doubt this small change in Medicare policy, which allows for the delivery of critical home infusions as we continue adapting to new and wise public health advice, will have a significant impact on the Medicare beneficiaries who struggle with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. I am proud to lead this legislation which will make life easier for people at high risk of developing lung and/or liver disease due to this rare genetic disease,” stated Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar.
Our goal is to reach 100 co-sponsors on the bill before the adjournment of the second session of the 117th Congress (January 3, 2023). This is a goal that the Foundation can track publicly with our constituency to energize and stimulate additional support for our grassroots public policy efforts. The request for co-sponsorship provides a tangible ask for our advocates to make during our “Alphas in Action” Spring Advocacy Week beginning Monday, April 4, 2022. We will also seek sponsorship for a Senate companion.
“During the pandemic, many immunocompromised Alpha-1 patients couldn’t access important therapies because of barriers to home infusion under Medicare, despite being safe and effective,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “I’m proud to join Congresswoman Salazar in this effort to ensure home infusions are a permanent benefit for Medicare beneficiaries who suffer from this rare disorder.”
This is a tremendous opportunity to generate awareness of Alpha-1. In the past the Foundation has collaborated with other like-minded organizations to advance issues that improve the lives of individuals living with Alpha-1. Due to these efforts, we have helped enact many benefits and witnessed progress made for Alphas and other individuals who live with a rare genetic disease. This is the first time that Congress has specifically addressed an expansion of benefits for those with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency.
“What a great day for Alphas across the nation! My brother, John W. Walsh, started the Alpha-1 Foundation in 1995 as an “impatient patient.” John always fought for what was best for Alphas and empowered others to do the same. This bill means so much to this community. The pandemic has shed light on the health and safety risks that Alphas face associated with leaving their homes to receive necessary weekly infusions. To Alphas, having access to care will improve lives and alleviate the associated cost burden. It is a proud moment to see this bill in motion and to generate awareness for those afflicted with this rare genetic disease. John would be so proud of the work the Alpha-1 community has done and continues to do,” expressed Fred Walsh, Alpha-1 patient and Board Member of the Alpha-1 Foundation.
Obtaining the right to have home infusions provided by Medicare Part B has long been an objective of the Alpha-1 community. During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency the administration introduced billing flexibility with the intention to allow home infusions under Medicare Part B and or a relaxed interpretation of disability for those on Medicare Part D to receive home infusions. Our goal is to seek a permanent change in the Medicare law that will allow Alpha-1 patients access to home infusions for those whose age or disability qualify them into the Medicare system.
“The introduction of The John W. Walsh Home Infusion Act is a huge step for this rare disease community. The Alpha-1 Foundation has worked tirelessly to get this bill introduced so that neither age nor disability will interfere with the continuation of care when transitioning to the Medicare system. The Act will cement the next step forward in improving the lives of Alphas for generations to come, alleviating the burdens that come with a diagnosis of Alpha-1 and the resulting costs. Thank you to Congresswoman Salazar for making this legislation a reality,” said Scott Santarella, President and CEO of the Alpha-1 Foundation.
To learn more, join us on Monday, April 4, 2022 at 12:00 PM EST for our Alphas in Action Advocacy Week Virtual Kick-Off Reception, register now.
For full bill text, click here.
To view the official press release from the Office of Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar, click here.
About the Alpha-1 Foundation
Alpha-1 is a genetic (inherited) condition that is passed from parents to their children through their genes. Alpha-1 may result in serious lung disease in adults and/or liver disease at any age. The Alpha-1 Foundation, founded in 1995, is committed to finding a cure for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1) and to improving the lives of people affected by Alpha-1 worldwide. The Foundation has invested over $91 million to support Alpha-1 research and programs at 123 institutions in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia.