DelBene Leads Bipartisan Letter Pushing CMS to Expand CAR T Care for Medicare Patients
Congresswoman DelBene led a bipartisan letter of House Ways and Means Committee members to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma, urging the expansion of Chimeric Antigen Receptor Therapies (CAR T), an innovative immunotherapy treatment, for Medicare recipients.
CAR T changes a patient’s immune cells to attack cancer cells in their bodies. This treatment provides hope and more promising health outcomes for patients with certain blood cancers. The developers of CAR T expect this treatment to be used to fight more types of cancers in the future.
In 2019, Medicare will cover CAR T but most hospitals will be unable to provide access to this lifesaving treatment because the reimbursement structure is inadequate. The letter urges CMS to convene a technical expert panel to find a sustainable way to reimburse for CAR T so that hospitals can afford to provide and seniors have access to this innovative treatment.
“CAR T is the one of the earliest examples of precision medicine being used to treat patients, and it is imperative that CMS get this right early on. If researchers find a way to cure cancer, seniors deserve access to that cure,” said Rep. DelBene. “As researchers develop 21st century cures, Medicare must deliver 21st century payment structures.”
Rep. DelBene represents Washington’s first congressional district. She is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicare.