On January 3, the 115th United States Congress was sworn-in in Washington, DC. Although repealing “Obamacare” (also known as the Affordable Care Act) has dominated the news about this new Congress, it has a full plate of issues that it plans to address in the coming year. Several of these issues will impact access to marrow and cord blood transplant:
Funding the CW Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program and the National Cord Blood Inventory through the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 and for all of FY 2018. The CW Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program provides funding to support the Be The Match Registry®. And the National Cord Blood Inventory provides funding to support the collection and maintenance of cord blood units used for transplant.
Each year, Congress must decide whether it will continue to fund these programs. This year Congress will finish the work it began in 2016 to appropriate funding through September 2017. It will also establish funding for October 2017 through September 2018. We need your help to advocate for continued funding of these programs that support our mission and help ensure patients have continued access to transplant.
- Medicare payment reform. Both the U.S. House and Senate plan to address a variety of Medicare payment rulings in the coming year. These bills may include reforming hospital payments and could provide us with an opportunity to address the problem of Medicare rates not adequately covering the cost of acquiring bone marrow and cord blood for transplants.
- Reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and potential Medicaid reform. The Congress also must review the CHIP program that provides health care coverage to millions of children across the country. This legislation may provide an opportunity to address ongoing concerns about State Medicaid programs as well.
We will continue to work with members of Congress to make sure that as policies evolve, Congress continues to protect access and remove barriers to life-saving transplants. And we’ll reach out to our advocates to support these efforts throughout the year.
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