Thursday, April 15, 2021

Two Genetics Bills on the Hill: Genetic Counselors Reimbursement; Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk in Medicare

Two bills are percolating in the new Congress, on what may be familiar topics.

In the longstanding battle for payments and coverage for genetic counseling for Medicare patients, such as women who are BRCA-positive, a bill is re-introduced.   See Repr. Brian Higgins' (D-NY) introduction of HR 2144, April 2021, to provide Medicare coverage for beneficiaries who require genetic counseling services.  Trade journal here, legislation here.  [Full text pending as of 4/15.]

Medicare covers BRCA (or HBOC) and LYNCH testing for Medicare beneficiaries who are both at high cancer risk by family history AND ALSO have a personal history of cancer.  Remarkably, some NCCN guidelines are written in two columns, one for patients with personal history, one for others, making it easy for Medicare medical directors to see which is which.  Getting ready for introduction is the Reducing Hereditary Cancer Act of 2021, which would eliminate this problem.  See a two-pager about the proposed legislation at FORCE, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered.  Here.