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Bill would include rehabilitation as a covered benefit

Washington, DC â??Idaho Senator Mike Crapo introduced legislation today to include pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation as a covered Medicare benefit. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas) joined Senator Crapo as an original co-sponsor. If passed, this legislation would end the decade-long debate between providers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the various fiscal intermediaries responsible for reimbursing for these services. Currently, there is no specific reference to pulmonary or cardiac rehabilitation services in the Medicare statute. While pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation programs generally are often considered a covered service by Medicare under the â??incident to physician servicesâ?? clause, the absence of a national coverage policy decision has limited access to necessary care and lack of reimbursement in many instances. â??Pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation is recognized as the standard of care for chronic lung disease and has proven effective in lowering inpatient stays and even removing the need for certain kinds of surgery,â?? said Senator Crapo. â??The fact that our healthcare providers have gone so long under such intermittent and provincial rules is a testament to the diligence in their profession and desire for effective patient care. Now is clearly the time for a national, comprehensive Medicare policyâ??our seniors and their providers deserve the enactment of this legislation.â??â??In Arkansas, thousands of patients with heart and lung disease use cardiac rehabilitation and pulmonary rehabilitation programs," said Senator Blanche Lincoln. "Our legislation will ensure that Medicare beneficiaries receive consistent access to this necessary care.â?? Supporters of this legislation include the American Association for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, American Association for Respiratory Care, American College of Chest Physicians, American Hospital Association, American Thoracic Society, and the National Association for Medical Direction of Respiratory Care, National Home Oxygen Patients Association.