News Releases

Murray, Dunn Re-Introduce Legislation to Give Seniors the Freedom to Take Some Medicines at Home

Feb 27 2003

Promising new treatments will benefit patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Hepatitis C and Deep Vein Thrombosis

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray and U.S. Representative Jennifer Dunn today introduced companion legislation in Congress to require Medicare to cover the cost of some self-administered medical treatments for patients with chronic diseases. Currently, Medicare will only pay for treatments that are given in a physician's office.

For patients living in rural areas or with disabilities, Murray's and Dunn's legislation would not only be more convenient, but would save Medicare millions of dollars spent on doctor visits.

The new legislation would allow Medicare to cover the cost of new medicines known as self-injectable biologics. The FDA has approved self-injectables to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Hepatitis C and Deep Vein Thrombosis.

Currently, many patients with private insurance and those on Medicaid have coverage for the self-injectable treatments. But, patients on Medicare can only get these drugs when they are administered in a doctor's office.

"This legislation will give Medicare patients access to new treatments that will help them save time and improve their quality of life," Murray said. "Today, Medicare discriminates against these effective home treatments, and patients are feeling the impact. The time has come to remove unfair and unnecessary burdens and give Medicare patients access to self-injectables."

"Great strides are being made in the medical community with self-injectable drugs that can substantially enhance the quality of life for many seniors who live with painful illnesses," said Dunn. "More importantly, many of these drugs can be administered in the comfort and convenience of an individual's home. It is important that we provide seniors with more choice about which medications they use and more accessibility to these medications. I have worked on this issue for several years and look forward to working with Senator Murray in this Congress."

The Murray-Dunn "Access to Innovation for Medicare Patients Act," would lift the Medicare restriction and may pave the way for greater research and development into the field of self-injectable biologics.

Senate co-sponsors include Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).

The legislation has been endorsed by the Arthritis Foundation, the American Public Health Association, National Association of Retired Federal Employees, National Council on the Aging, National Farmers Union, National Hispanic Council on Aging, Association of Jewish Aging Services and the Visiting Nurses Associations of America.