Our organization supports enactment of the Access to Genetic Counselor Services Act to update Medicare law and improve access to genetic counselors for Medicare beneficiaries. Genetic counselors are highly trained providers who support patients by providing comprehensive genetic counseling services. Genetic counselors work as part of the medical team to facilitate communication between Medicare beneficiaries and other providers to manage health issues with a genetic component.
Genetic counselors have advanced training in medical genetics and counseling. This specialized expertise enables genetic counselors to play a significant role in educating Medicare beneficiaries about the genetic contributions to disease and the implications for their health – both medical and psychological – and the health of family members. These highly trained professionals enable beneficiaries and other providers to consider which genetic tests may be appropriate, and how to evaluate test results. In short, genetic counselors empower patients and providers to make informed decisions.
The services of genetic counselors are increasingly important in the era of personalized medicine. Genetic counseling is particularly helpful for Medicare beneficiaries considering genetic testing for certain conditions affecting the elderly that have a genetic component, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurology.
Medicare law needs to be updated to provide beneficiaries direct access to the services of genetic counselors to ensure patients receive the counseling they need to make the right decisions about their care. While Medicare currently covers genetic counseling services, the lack of direct reimbursement for genetic counselors, and arcane “incident to” rules, significantly prevent referrals to these providers.
The Access to Genetic Counselor Services Act takes a measured approach to modernize Medicare to catch up with the innovation of genetics and genomic medicine. The bill would:
- Improve the ability of other practitioners, such as physicians, to refer patients for genetic counseling to genetic counselors under Medicare Part B.
- Provide reimbursement to genetic counselors at 85 percent of the physician fee schedule amount.
- Ensure that other practitioners that currently provide the service can continue to do so if the activities are within their scope of practice.
Enabling broader Medicare beneficiary access to genetic counselors will help ensure appropriate genetic testing, provide critical knowledge to beneficiaries to fully understand test results that are often complex, and further integrate genetic counselors into the healthcare team. We expect the legislation will enhance team-based care coordination for Medicare beneficiaries, and may also save money for beneficiaries and the Medicare program.
We urge you to support this legislation to modernize and update Medicare for patients. For additional information, please contact John Richardson, Director of Government Relations, National Society of Genetic Counselors at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-367-1239.
Access to Genetic Counselor Services Act Organization Support Letter Signatories
Signatories as of March 2021
Organizations can sign the letter by clicking HERE.