Brown Joins Colleagues in Introducing Legislation to Expand Access and Coverage of Allergy Testing



 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 12, 2021 – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined his colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Allergy Testing Access Act of 2021. By removing current barriers associated with coverage, this legislation would expand access to allergy testing and ensure proper diagnoses of allergies for patients, including the elderly, young children and individuals in rural communities. The legislation is also sponsored by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Tim Scott (R-SC).

“Getting allergy tested could be a lifesaving decision,” said Brown. “Everyone should be able to access this critical procedure before they experience a health scare, regardless of their coverage, income or where they live. This bipartisan legislation will help ensure Ohioans have equitable access to safe and accurate allergy tests that will save lives.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States and carry an annual cost of $18 billion. Over 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year, with symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening.

Inconsistencies in Medicare and Medicaid coverage of allergy testing have led to barriers for allergy tests, which are safe and accurate. Peer-reviewed literature and guidelines from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have established the accuracy of both blood tests (in vitro specific IgE) and skin tests (percutaneous) as confirmatory tests for allergies. Despite these recommendations, many local Medicare and Medicaid coverage policies deny equal coverage and access to blood-based allergy tests. Currently, access is limited to areas in which a local coverage determination has been made by the Medicare Administrative Contractor to expand access to blood testing. Areas, where equal coverage has been introduced, have witnessed a reduction in overall costs per beneficiary without disruption of services, while retaining similar skin to blood test usage ratios.

Inequities in access to allergy tests that are safe and accurate only serve to proliferate negative health outcomes and alienate populations where access to a specialist is limited, which is often in rural communities. And as a result, there is an unnecessary financial burden associated with these healthcare disparities because of a lack of equal access to allergy testing coverage.

The Allergy Testing Access Act of 2021 addresses these inequalities by expanding access and ensuring proper diagnosis of allergies for patients – including the elderly and young children – in rural communities. This legislation will remove barriers which inhibit patient access to safe and accurate allergy tests, thereby empowering patients with personal healthcare information that can help them live healthy, productive lives.

To view the full text of the bill, click here.

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