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Legislation will include rehabilitation as a covered benefit

Washington, DC â?? Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln today introduced legislation to assist pulmonary and cardiac Medicare patients by increasing access to critical rehabilitation programs. The Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation Act (S. 329) will include pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation as specific services covered by Medicare. The bill would establish a uniform Medicare policy for coverage of pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation, which would effectively end a decade-long debate among providers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the various fiscal intermediaries responsible for the reimbursement of these services. Currently, neither pulmonary nor cardiac rehabilitation services are specifically included in the Medicare statute. While these programs are often covered by Medicare under the â??incident to physician servicesâ?? clause, without a national policy, coverage is inconsistent, resulting in limited access to necessary care and lack of reimbursement in many cases. â??Thousands of Idahoans with heart and lung disease need pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation programs,â?? said Crapo. â??This legislation will pave the way for Medicareâ??s consistent coverage of these important services and ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have access to the health care they need.â?? "This legislation will go a long way in helping Medicare beneficiaries who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease receive the care they need to live a longer and better quality of life," Lincoln said. "We know that many Medicare beneficiaries are in need of pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation services, and this legislation would not only improve access to care for these beneficiaries nationwide but also would save money in Medicare from better disease management." â??Pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation programs are recognized throughout the medical community as the standard of care for chronic lung disease and have proven to be effective in lowering inpatient stays and removing the need for certain surgeries,â?? added Crapo. â??A national, comprehensive Medicare policy is clearly necessary. Our seniors and their providers deserve the enactment of this legislation.â??Crapo chairs and Lincoln co-chairs the Congressional Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Caucus. Crapo officially launched the COPD Caucus in March of 2004. Key groups supporting the Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation Act include the American Association for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, the American Association for Respiratory Care, the American College of Chest Physicians, the American Hospital Association, the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society, the National Association for Medical Direction of Respiratory Care and the National Home Oxygen Patients Association.###