My name is Jennifer Hovatter, and I became a widow at the age of 34 because my husband did not have insurance coverage for the treatment that could have prevented his death. Because of this, I became a patient advocate and member of the Lymphedema Advocacy Group.
My beloved Thomas developed a disease called lymphedema, which, left untreated results in massive swelling that leaves the patient susceptible to many serious complications. My husband’s death should and could have been prevented! After suffering with untreated lymphedema for four years Thomas developed an infection that eventually took his life at the young age of 43.
This happened because Medicare and many private insurance companies are currently not covering the lymphedema treatment items patients are prescribed to keep the disease under control. Instead, these insurers cover treatment of the far more costly complications that could have been prevented. This is nonsense – it is driving up healthcare costs and causing patients needless suffering, and in some cases, even loss of life.
Please help me change this! There is a bill currently in Congress aiming to improve coverage for lymphedema treatment; for more information and to take further action visit www.LymphedemaTreatmentAct.org.
In Thomas’ memory, I have dedicated the rest of my life to helping other lymphedema patients. Thank you for helping me achieve my dream by signing our petition.
It is estimated that at least six million Americans suffer from lymphedema, which is a common complication of cancer treatments. Untreated or under-treated lymphedema is progressive and leads to infection, disfigurement, disability and in some cases even death. Thus, prognosis for the patient is far worse and total costs are far greater when comprehensive treatment is not begun in the earlier stages and continued consistently.
Presently, Medicare and consequently most private insurance plans do not provide coverage for all components of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), which is the gold standard and only known course of treatment for lymphedema. This is a multi-modal treatment that is only effective when used in its entirety. While Medicare does cover physical/occupational therapy and pneumatic pumps, the essential piece of CDT treatment that is lacking coverage is compression (compression garments, devices and bandages). Without this key component the gains made in therapy or by use of a pump cannot be maintained and costly complications and disease progression still often ensue.
Medicare and private insurers are currently spending far more to cover the costs of these inevitable complications because of their failure to cover the far less costly maintenance/preventative care to keep the disease in check. Providing this coverage is a win-win; it will improve the lives of patients immeasurably while also helping to rein in health care costs.
I hope that you will ensure that this cost-saving preventative care for lymphedema no longer falls through the cracks. Please support the Lymphedema Diagnosis and Treatment Cost Saving Act by contacting Representative Kissell or Senator Merkley to cosponsor this legislation.