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Carter, Schakowsky applaud passage of the Lymphedema Treatment Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) celebrated today’s passage of their landmark legislation, H.R. 3630, the Lymphedema Treatment Act, which will ensure Medicare Part B coverage of doctor-prescribed compression garments, the clinically recognized treatment for lymphedema. The bill, which was reintroduced in June 2021, is also co-led by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Mike Kelly (R-PA).

"We are one step closer to providing relief for lymphedema patients, some of whom live through one of the worst diagnoses imaginable – cancer – only to come out the other side with an equally debilitating condition and a fraction of the resources and support. As co-chair of the Cancer Survivors Caucus and a pharmacist, I am excited to see Congress provide relief to patients who have been denied Medicare coverage for far too long," said Rep. Carter.

"Today, the House of Representatives took one giant step closer to finally providing needed relief to over three million Lymphedema patients on Medicare,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “My bill, the Lymphedema Treatment Act, which I was proud to introduce with my colleague, Rep. Buddy Carter (GA-01), will expand access to medical compression garments that Lymphedema patients rely on to treat their painful, incurable swelling. The bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support thanks to the tireless work of advocates like Heather Ferguson, Founder and Executive Director of the Lymphedema Advocacy Group, and her teenage sons. With tremendous bipartisan support in the Senate, we can get this bill to President Biden’s desk before the end of the year. Millions of Lymphedema patients are counting on us."

Lymphedema is a chronic, progressive group of conditions characterized by swelling and discomfort in various parts of the body due to malfunctions in the lymphatic system. Between 1.5 and 3 million Medicare beneficiaries currently suffer from lymphedema. Patients undergoing treatment for cancer are particularly susceptible to lymphedema. When left untreated or undertreated, lymphedema can lead to complications, infections, comorbidities, loss of function, and disability—often necessitating costly emergency department or hospital visits. Commercial insurance and state Medicaid programs currently cover compression therapy.

"Komen applauds the passage of the Lymphedema Treatment Act as an important step in relieving the financial burden felt by many breast cancer patients and survivors who experience lymphedema, particularly Black and Hispanic women, and calls for swift passage in the Senate," said Molly Guthrie, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for Susan G. Komen. "The use of prescribed medical compression garments significantly improves health and quality of life for patients through reduced incidence of infections, hospitalizations, and other costly, yet preventable, complications. However, the out-of-pocket costs for these garments prevent people from accessing them."

“The Oncology Nursing Society applauds the bipartisan leadership of U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Buddy Carter for championing the necessary patient-centered Lymphedema Treatment Act (LTA). Nurses help patients with cancer and survivors navigate symptom management, and LTA will have a direct impact on how patients and their families cope with the many burdens of lymphedema. Thank you for your support in passing this legislation!” said Jeannine Brant, PhD, APRN-CNS, AOCN®, FAAN, ONS President.

The Lymphedema Treatment Act enjoys strong support from a broad coalition of patient advocacy, provider, and industry groups, including the Lymphedema Advocacy Group; the American Cancer Society; the American Medical Association; the Lymphatic Education and Research Network; 3M; the Oncology Nursing Society; the American Physical Therapy Association; the American Occupational Therapy Association; American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation; American Association of Nurse Practitioners; American Lymphedema Framework Project; American Nurses Association; Breast Cancer Action; Cancer Legal Care; Disability Rights Legal Center; Greet The Day; LIVESTRONG; Lighthouse Lymphedema Network; Living Beyond Breast Cancer; Lipedema Foundation; Lymphology Association of North America; National Comprehensive Cancer Network; National Lymphedema Network; National Patient Advocate Foundation; Northwest Lymphedema Center; Ovarian Cancer National Alliance; Society for Gynecologic Oncology; Society for Vascular Nursing; Susan G. Komen; Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society; Ackerman Cancer Center; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Boston Children's Hospital, Vascular Anomalies Center; Essentially Women, a division of VGM Group, Inc.; EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases; James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute at The Ohio State University; Moffitt Cancer Center; Penn Medicine Cancer Rehabilitation; Phelan McDermid Syndrome Foundation; Seattle Cancer Care Alliance; UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; and, the University of Vermont Cancer Center. 

Read the full bill text here

Read Rep. Carter's related op-ed in The Hill