Friday, June 27, 2008

Pulmonary Rehabilitation gets a boost by the House

The following is a press release from the American Lung Association. I wanted to give a little background first. The HPS Network, in cooperation with the American Thoracic Society, has lobbied for pulmonary rehabilitation to be covered by Medicare. Many insurance plans don't cover pulmonary rehabilitation, although many HPS'ers and other patients with pulmonary fibrosis, find it useful. Insurance companies tend to follow the lead of Medicare, so it's the hope that this bill will make it easier for patients with pulmonary fibrosis to get pulmonary rehabilitation covered. I know the release talks about COPD, but it really goes beyond that.

I must admit, personally, when I read the ALA's smoking info. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand there's no doubt that smoking causes all kinds of health problems and really costs the United States a lot of money annually. I'm happy to see the advocacy for smoke free zones as I'm the person that calls in advance sometimes to make sure a restaurant or bar is smoke free. The smoke really irritates my breathing.

On the other hand, it's a public relations challenge. The public has a perception that those of us with lung disease "did it to ourselves." Lung diseases don't even begin to get the research dollars that other organ systems get. I've had several HPS'ers on oxygen tell me that they've overheard comments from strangers as they go about their business along the lines of "that's what happens when you smoke..." It would be a rude comment either way, but it's especially hurtful when you're relatively young and just falling subject to your genes.

Lung diseases need research dollars because people are dying - period.

Putting away the soap box for a minute:

American Lung Association Commends U.S. House of Representatives for Passage of Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation Act

Contact: Gregg Tubbs202) 715-3469 202) 365-2694 (cell)

Washington, D.C., (June 24, 2008) – The American Lung Association commends and thanks the U.S. House of Representatives for its passage of the Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation Act today. As part of the overarching Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, the Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation Act is a critical measure that will make life easier for millions of Americans who suffer from serious lung disease, including many older, Medicare-eligible adults who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Lung Association now calls on the Senate to pass this legislation so it can begin working for the millions of Americans in need.

“We applaud Chairman Dingell, Chairman Rangel and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus for their leadership on behalf of this legislation,” said Bernadette A. Toomey, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “Passage of this bill, which will help millions of Americans suffering from lung disease, has been a priority for the American Lung Association for several years.”

COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, is the fourth-ranking cause of death in this country. As of 2004, 11.4 million U.S. adults were diagnosed with COPD and an additional 12 million were believed to have the disease but were not yet clinically diagnosed. Each year, COPD claims the lives of an estimated 120,000 Americans.
This legislation will create a national coverage policy for pulmonary rehabilitation so that Medicare beneficiaries in all states will have access to this cost-effective treatment. Importantly, this legislation will also end long-standing confusion among providers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and various reimbursement agencies, as to whether pulmonary rehabilitation is a covered benefit.

Pulmonary rehabilitation helps reduce the impact of COPD by helping to control or reduce breathlessness and recondition the body. With this comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach which includes exercise, education and breathing retraining, people with COPD can experience great benefits, including less need for medications, fewer hospital stays, longer survival and a better quality of life.

About the American Lung Association: Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other leading causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is “Improving life, one breath at a time.” For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or log on to

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