By John Richardson, NSGC Director of Policy and Government Relations
As you may know, NSGC announced earlier in the week that Representatives Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) introduced H.R. 7083, legislation that would result in genetic counselor recognition by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Medicare currently covers and reimburses genetic counseling and many genetic tests; however, Congress has yet to enact legislation that would recognize genetic counselors as Medicare practitioners. This bill would create that recognition, resulting in much better access to genetic counselor services and enabling genetic counselors to be reimbursed by CMS when providing these important services to Medicare beneficiaries.
H.R. 7083 would:
- Authorize reimbursement for professional services delivered to Medicare beneficiaries at 85 percent of what physicians are paid (consistent with nurse practitioners).
- Enable genetic counselors in states with licensure to deliver services to Medicare beneficiaries under their state’s scope of practice. For those in states without licensure, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would create rules outlining requirements for genetic counselors.
- Align with legislation enacted for other allied health practitioners.
- Enhance the ability of Medicare beneficiaries to see genetic counselors, which should increase the quality of genetic services.
The bill would not preclude other practitioners from providing these services if these activities are within their own scopes of practice.
This common-sense legislation would improve access to genetic counselors by modernizing Medicare policy to align with many of the current health plans. The legislation may also compel private plans that have poor genetic counselor coverage to improve their coverage policies. And it may save Medicare up to $6.5 billion over 10 years.
Over the next few weeks, NSGC will be asking members in specific districts to contact their U.S. Representative to request that they co-sponsor H.R 7083. I hope you will answer this call to action. NSGC will make this a straightforward and easy process, and will provide all of the necessary background materials and messaging to help you become an effective advocate. NSGC has also invested in software to support this grassroots effort so that we can manage and track your efforts. We know that everyone is very excited by this progress, but we may be seeing impactful changes due to the election so we would like to be strategic and coordinated in our outreach. You can find the background materials here. Please also join us by celebrating this step on Facebook and Twitter.
We are requesting that members, who have connections to patient advocacy organizations, reach out and ask for a letter of support. A template is available on the webpage.
H.R. 7083’s introduction is an exciting event for the genetic counselor profession, and NSGC wishes to thank Representatives Paulsen and Loebsack for their commitment to this important issue. Please be on the lookout for action alerts in the coming days and weeks. Thank you in advance for helping us advocate for improved access to you and the services you provide!
This article was published in the October 2018 Advocate Newsletter.