May 17, 2019

Cassidy, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Expedite Medicare Coverage for Americans with Huntington’s Disease

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and U.S. Representatives Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), reintroduced the Huntington’s Disease Parity Act, legislation to waive the current two year waiting period those with Huntington’s Disease must endure while waiting for Medicare coverage to kick in.  

“As a doc, I know treating a patient in early stages of disease is critical to good outcomes,” said Dr.  Cassidy. “Making patients wait two years for treatment through Medicare puts their health at risk and increases the cost of their care. This legislation ensures patients receive the care they need at the most crucial point in their diagnosis.”

Huntington’s Disease (HD) is a degenerative disease affecting the brain. The HD Parity Act would provide access to care for HD patients when it will make the greatest impact on their lives and families. Currently, once a person with HD becomes eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, there is a two-year waiting period for Medicare benefits. The legislation would waive the two-year waiting period and ensure that people with Huntington’s disease receive care in the early stages of the disease. 

“Anyone diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease deserves immediate care, and they shouldn’t be forced to fight through red tape or go bankrupt while battling with this horrible disease,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This bill takes the commonsense step to improve access to lifesaving care for people who need it right away, and I urge my colleagues to pass this legislation.”

“The Huntington’s Disease Parity Act is critical to providing the necessary medical access to those affected by this devastating disease. Our legislation will provide a targeted solution to fix an outdated system and help the tens of thousands of people across the United States battling this rare and fatal disease,” said Congressman Kinzinger. “I’m incredibly proud to once again introduce this legislation with my colleague Rep. Pascrell, and our Senate colleagues, Sen. Cassidy and Sen. Gillibrand. It’s time we get this across the finish line, to help families with HD get the care they need.”

“Huntington’s is a dreadful disease and its impact is devastating,” said Congressman Pascrell. “The physical and emotional toll on victims and their families is total, and they need all the support that can be mustered. Currently, the two year waiting period for Medicare coverage for Huntington’s sufferers is a brutal and unnecessary gap. Our legislation will allow Americans suffering from Huntington’s to obtain care as quickly as possible. For those dealing with this difficult diagnosis, we need to make sure their lives are comfortable as possible.”

 “The Huntington’s Disease Parity Act is a crucial bill to improve the lives of everyone affected by HD and their families. Right now, HD families must wait two years to access Medicare benefits after being qualified as disabled. In two years with HD, an individual can go from being functional to completely bed-ridden and under 24-hour care. This is unacceptable and the bill MUST be passed,” said Louise Vetter, President and CEO of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.