After receiving a breast cancer diagnosis and going through treatment, breast cancer survivors can develop lymphedema as a result of surgery or radiation to the lymph nodes in the armpit. Any person who has breast cancer surgery and lymph nodes removed is at risk for developing lymphedema, and remains at risk for the rest of their life. While most breast cancer survivors do not get lymphedema, the patients who do may face considerable pain, reduced movement, serious infections, emotional distress and a reduced quality of life.
Medicare does cover certain limited therapies and equipment related to lymphedema treatment; however, inconsistent interpretations of federal statutes mean incomplete coverage for compression bandages, garments, devices and specialized supplies required for daily clinical and home treatment of lymphedema. Without adequate coverage, women are exposed to significant out-of-pocket costs in pursuing treatment for lymphedema. These costs create barriers for some women, depriving them of the tools they need to adhere to the standard treatment regimen and putting them at risk for infection, hospitalization and further health problems.
The Lymphedema Treatment Act will improve access to lymphedema coverage by enabling Medicare coverage for compression supplies, including compression garments, bandages, and devices required for complete lymphedema treatment.