Schakowsky Reintroduces the Lymphedema Treatment Act

June 2, 2021
Press Release
Bill Ensures Treatment Is Covered for Medicare Recipients

EVANSTON – Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), a Senior Chief Deputy Whip, was joined by Reps. Buddy Carter (GA-01), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and Mike Kelly (PA-16) in reintroducing The Lymphedema Treatment Act. The Lymphedema Treatment Act, H.R. 3630, was reintroduced with 147 original co-sponsors, the most original cosponsors - in both the House and Senate - than any other healthcare bill thus far in the 117th Congress. The legislation ensures that Medicare Part B covers compression garments, the clinically-recognized treatment for lymphedema. This illness, characterized by swelling and discomfort, is often seen in patients undergoing cancer treatment and affects anywhere from 1.5 to 3 million current Medicare beneficiaries and almost anywhere from 3-5 million people nationwide.

“I have seen Lymphedema in a close friend of mine, so I know that it can be a painful and costly condition to treat and manage on top of struggling with cancer. Lymphedema isn’t a choice. Access to care shouldn’t be either,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “This bipartisan legislation will make sure that those dealing with it don’t have to also worry about the cost of treating it. I am proud to reintroduce the Lymphedema Treatment Act with over 140 of my colleagues and hope that we will finally pass this critical legislation in the 117th Congress.”

“This legislation is critical to ensure Lymphedema patients have access to the compression therapy products they need,” said Rep. Carter. “Currently, the lack of coverage is a serious concern for patients living with Lymphedema. I’m glad to introduce this legislation again this Congress with Rep. Schakowsky and I’m excited about the bipartisan support the legislation has already received. I hope the bill will move quickly to address this issue.”

“The Lymphedema Treatment Act would ensure Americans suffering from lymphedema have access to the compression treatment that best manages their condition and alleviates needless suffering,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “This bipartisan legislation would reduce the financial burden of treatment, so that lymphedema patients and their loved ones can focus on care.”

Rep. Kelly said, “Many seniors in Western Pennsylvania are affected by lymphedema. Preventative medicine is crucial to keep Americans healthy and seniors deserve Medicare coverage of doctor-prescribed supplies to treat this condition. I am proud to be a co-author of this legislation.”

This bill enjoys strong support from a broad coalition of patient advocacy, health provider and health industry groups, including the Lymphedema Advocacy Group, the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, the Lymphatic Education and Research Network, 3M, the Oncology Nursing Society, the American Physical Therapy Association, and the American Occupational Therapy Association. 

“Compression garments are the most medically-effective and cost-effective way to manage this chronic disease. Unfortunately, millions of Americans with lymphedema currently lack access to these prescribed, medically necessary supplies. Closing this insurance coverage gap will enable patients to more effectively manage their condition, live full and productive lives, and reduce lymphedema-related complications and hospitalizations,“ said Heather Ferguson, founder and executive director of the Lymphedema Advocacy Group.

“Lymphedema unfortunately is a common side effect of certain cancer treatments. Having the appropriate means to manage the condition is essential to patients’ quality of life and it is long past time for Medicare to cover the costs of these medically prescribed and necessary compression garments,” said Lisa Lacasse, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

Nancy Houlihan RN, MA, AOCN, National President of the Oncology Nursing Society, stated, “Treatment with surgery and/or radiation therapy for many types of cancer may result in long-term lymphedema of the upper and lower extremities. This swelling can be painful and has the potential for health complications in cancer survivors. ONS applauds US Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Buddy Carter (R-GA) for their extraordinary leadership in introducing the bipartisan Lymphedema Treatment Act of 2021. This legislation will expand access and make compression sleeves more affordable for patients suffering from the effects of lymphedema.”