Bi-partisan budget deal a win for heart and stroke patients
The two-year budget deal, approved by the House and the Senate in February, included provisions that expand access for telestroke and cardiac rehabilitation services, remove restrictions on Medicare therapy caps and help improve the health of patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD).
“Several significant barriers for Americans with heart disease and stroke have finally been removed with passage of this legislation,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. “Thanks to Congress, more Medicare beneficiaries will now have access to the treatments and follow-up care they need to fight cardiovascular disease.”
Americans on Medicare who experience strokes need fast, high-quality care, regardless of where they live. Stroke patients in urban/suburban areas have faced many of the same obstacles as their rural counterparts — long journeys to get to a hospital and a lack of stroke specialists. Yet, only Medicare patients in rural areas were reimbursed for telestroke services. Now under the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine or FAST Act, which was included in the approved budget bill, this coverage will be available to all beneficiaries, no matter where they reside.
Another win for stroke patients under this legislation is the repeal of arbitrary Medicare payment caps for outpatient therapy services. Caps on therapy would have seriously limited treatment options for millions of Americans. Now, as of Jan.1, patients will have access to medically necessary rehabilitation services.
“This game-changing bill could not come at a better time,” said Brown. “In the next two decades, 45 percent of the total U.S. population will have cardiovascular disease with costs expected to reach $1.1 trillion. We hope to find more health care strategies like these to help wipe out the burden of heart disease and stroke.”
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