Five lawmakers introduce SMART vent bill

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Monday, November 4, 2019

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced a bill that would delay the inclusion of ventilators from the competitive bidding program for five years.

H.R. 4945, the “Safeguarding Medicare Access to Respiratory Therapy (SMART) Act of 2019,” was introduced by Reps. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., Peter Welch, D-Vt., Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., John Larson, D-Conn., and Darren Soto, D-Fla.

“Medical ventilators are life-sustaining devices,” said Griffth. “Patients depending on them can often remain in their homes, but only if providers are able to travel to them. The SMART Act would prevent such difficulties.”

CMS announced in March that non-invasive vents were one of 16 product categories that it would include in Round 2021. Bidding for this latest round of the program closed on Sept. 18.

The bill would also create a technical expert panel to assist the Department of Health and Human Services in developing a comprehensive Medicare coverage policy for ventilators used in the home.

“The SMART Act takes a smart approach to making sure that respiratory patients can benefit from advances in ventilator technology,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare. “We believe that expert-led efforts to update ventilator coverage policy will ultimately improve patient outcomes and reduce the need for more costly clinical interventions.”

Earlier this year, members in both the House of Representatives and Senate sent letters to CMS pressuring the agency to drop non-invasive vents from the bid program. The letters garnered 180 and 38 signatures, respectively.

Twenty-four organizations consisting of patient advocates, clinicians and healthcare providers have already endorsed H.R. 4945.